‘Despicable’ theft from a Hospice shop

Crime story
Crime story

A DRUG addict was blasted in court for his “despicable” thefts from the borough’s biggest charity.

An outraged customer saw 35-year-old John Robert Utton putting a watch, shirt and other clothing into his pockets while inside a Wigan and Leigh Hospice’s shop in April.

The Golborne man, of Oak Avenue, was said to have been under the influence of drugs at the time and was intending to sell the items, donated by passionate supporters from around the borough, for a further hit.

Remorseful Utton had earlier pleaded guilty at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court to the £25.25 theft of Hospice property and to possessing cocaine and amphetamine.

Prosecutor Carl Gaffney said that officers were waiting for Utton as he left the Leigh premises and as he was arrested he attempted to kick some of the stolen property under the patrol car.

Mr Gaffney praised the Hospice for helping people “in their darkest hour” and said that the fact that the sales from its shops directly helped to fund the facility was a “significant” aggravating feature.

Graham Simpson. defending, said that the theft had been “mean spirited” but Utton had been under the influence of drugs and had only a very poor recollection of committing the theft.

Utton surrendered himself to prison recall earlier in the year because he was having trouble coping with life outside prison after his release.

But Mr Simpson said he had now re-engaged with his 17-year-old daughter, sorted out his accommodation and benefits and was taking an administered prescription to beat his addiction.

Jailing Utton for two months, suspended for 18 months, the chairman of the bench also ordered that he complete a nine-month supervision order which is to include a six-month drug rehabilitation course.

He must also pay more than £190 in costs and compensation.

She told apologetic Utton: “This is a particularly despicable offence.

“Not only did it take place from a charity shop, this was from a Hospice’s charity shop...a facility which funds the care of people who are terminally ill.

“You may well have your own problems but we are talking here about people who have a lot more serious concerns than you.”