Prolific elderly shoplifter is spared jail

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AN ELDERLY career criminal has escaped a jail sentence for shoplifting - despite having clocked up more than 500 previous convictions.

Pensioner Harry Hankinson, was arrested on Saturday, March 9 this year when he stole £134.99 worth of hair products from the Boots store in Wigan’s Grand Arcade shopping centre.

For this latest offence the 65-year-old was sentenced to a two-month jail term but it was suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to pay £35 in court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Hankinson who comes from the Bolton area, has spent more than half of his life in prison, the hearing was told.

He was spotted on the store’s CCTV cameras stealing a bottle of perfume and hair straighteners from the shop.

Wigan and Leigh magistrates were told that this was just two days after he had appeared at a Manchester court charged in connection with a similar offence.

Boots store security staff stopped him before he was able to leave and he immediately apologised and the items were recovered.

Colin Rawlinson, defending, said that his client suffered from a personality disorder which went some way towards explaining some of his stealing behaviour.

And he has been psychologically examined in previous cases.

Mr Rawlinson added: “He hasn’t re-offended since the incident and has made a determined effort to engage in voluntary work decorating and also working with mentally disabled people.

“He hasn’t got the best of records but has made an effort to apologise and has shown signs of changing his lifestyle.”