Wigan shoplifter stole to avoid 'sinister' punishment from drug dealers

Police probe
Police probe

A Wigan man shoplifted from a supermarket in a bid to avoid “sinister” punishment from drug dealers to whom he owed money, a court has been told.

Darren Kay feared for his safety at the hands of dealers who were demanding payment from him, and resorted to shoplifting to avoid potentially dangerous recriminations for the unpaid debt.

A bench sitting at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard how the 37-year-old from Scholes stole meat from the Tesco Express in Whelley on March 21 and returned to do it again four days later.

On the second occasion, his luck ran out when store security guards gave chase from the shop and apprehended him.

Having pleaded guilty to two charges of shoplifting at an earlier hearing, Kay was ordered to abide by a curfew for one month.

But he was brought back before the court after failing to comply with the order - namely that he had not made himself available at his home for his monitoring equipment to be installed.

Prosecuting, Tess Kenyon told justices that Kay had described his offences as “impulsive” when quizzed by police.

He had initially stolen in order to feed himself, the court was told, but he had returned to the mini-market days later to steal again, this time in an attempt to pay off his drug debt.

Defending, Bob Toppin revealed that his client had a “long-standing drug issue” and had encountered problems with his prescriptions.

The result was Kay’s turning to the black market in order to feed his habit further, and as a result he had quickly run up a substantial debt.

Mr Toppin told the justices that drug dealers had “sinister ways” of collecting money owed to them.

And it was this fear of repercussions that led Kay to stealing, in a bid to pay back the cash as rapidly as possible.

The bench decided to re-sentence Kay for his original shoplifting offences as well as the curfew breach matter.

He was given a 12-month community order and a further two-month curfew to be observed between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

He must also complete 10 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement, pay £85 in court costs and a victim surcharge of the same amount.