A JUDGE lamented how a prolific Wigan shoplifter was “probably more familiar with the inside of a courtroom than I am”.
Recorder M J Smith also told Darren Kaye it had been a while since he had seen a criminal record “as long and as miserable as yours”.
But he decided to give Kaye, who admitted repeatedly stealing meat from the same supermarket to fund his heroin habit, one last chance.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how Kaye, 32, targeted the Asda store in Bolton Road, Atherton, three times in the space of just four days.
On the first occasion, on November 17, he stole steaks, roasting joints and chicken fillets to the value of £65.
Then, the following day, he returned to steal steaks and pork joints to the value of £41.
But he was caught red-handed by an off-duty police officer when he tried to repeat the trick on November 20 - loading £65 worth of meat into a basket and running off.
The officer spotted Kaye making his getaway and followed him in his car before detaining him, taking him back to the store and placing him under arrest.
In interview, the defendant, of Browning Avenue, Atherton, made a full and frank admission.
He told police he had recently been taken off methadone after missing an appointment and had committed the thefts to help fund his £30 a day heroin habit.
Zia Chaudhry, defending, admitted that his client had a “hideous record” but asked for any custodial sentence to be suspended.
He added that Kaye had only missed his methadone appointment because his home had been broken into within 24 hours of his release from an earlier prison sentence, and that his client deserved one more chance.
Recorder Smith told Kaye there were some “disturbing indications that there’s no real prospect of you mending your ways”.
But, mindful of the month that the defendant had already spent behind bars on remand, he sentenced him to six months in jail - suspended for two years.
He also ordered Kaye to complete a six-month drug rehabilitation programme and undergo nine months of supervision.