Thief weeps as he is jailed for thefts to fund gambling addiction

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

A Wigan man was jailed for stealing more than £1,500 worth of drills to fund his gambling addiction.

Joseph Melling targeted the same B&Q store on four occasions, helping himself to 10 drills worth £1,560 between February and March this year.

His shoplifting spree had such a financial blow on the store that they were forced to stop offering overtime to staff for a period.

The 22-year-old, of School Avenue in Whelley, sobbed as he was taken away from Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court in handcuffs, having pleaded guilty to the offences.

The court heard how Melling’s spree began on February 27, when he used a fire exit to sneak out of Wigan’s B&Q store with three drills valued at £480.

He was successful in stealing the same value of drills on March 5, but was thwarted by security just days later when he tried his luck again.

Despite being caught red-handed with £300 worth of drills, security simply retrieved the goods and allowed him to leave.

Melling failed to get away on his fourth and final attempt to steal another £300 of drills on March 16.

It was revealed that the store’s security guards were aware of Melling’s first two successful thefts, but that it was policy to record the incidents and report them at a later date, because police were unlikely to send out an officer to investigate a single offence.

In a police interview, Melling fully admitted to the offences, and said he was having problems with a gambling addiction.

Prosecuting, Tess Kenyon told justices that the thefts had such a detrimental effect on the store that they had been unable to pay overtime.

Melling’s solicitor Kathryn Lloyd told the bench her client had been a gambling addict since he was 15 years old, and had been in financial difficulties as a result.

He was being supported by his mother, who he lived with and was taking him to and from Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

Ms Lloyd said: “He had two nights in the cells to reflect on his behaviour.

“He accepts and knows its wrong and that he has done this to feed his addiction.”

She added: “He knows he has to be punished and he will take that punishment on the chin, he says.”

Ms Lloyd had urged the magistrates to impose a suspended prison sentence, but instead gave Melling a 16 week jail term. He will serve half of his sentence in prison, and the remainder on license.

Melling became visibly distressed and was sobbing heavily as he was taken down from the dock in handcuffs.