Shoplifter stole items worth £2k to pay back drug debt

Wigan and Leigh Courthouse
Wigan and Leigh Courthouse

A shoplifter fled with hauls valued at more than £2,000 because he feared drug dealers were going to burn down his mother’s home.

Christopher Morris, 29, claimed threats were issued against her by “Scouse” dealers, who he had racked up debts with, Wigan magistrates were told.

So “panicking”, Morris turned his attentions to the TK Maxx store at Robin Park, carrying out four stealing sprees in less than a fortnight. Store bosses say his largest haul was on June 1, when he fled past security barriers with four handbags worth £999.

Tess Kenyon, prosecuting, said Morris was eventually caught by security staff on June 5, when he tried to walk away with 14 items, valued at £299.

Another theft, on May 31, saw various Ralph Lauren garments taken, Management say the cheapest item they sell from the fashion house is £39.99. The third occasion saw four Coach handbags taken with £249,99 price tags each.

Martin Jones, defending, said his client disputed some of the values given by TK Maxx, which amounted to “guess-timation”. Morris insisted that the bags, for instance, might have had a recommended retail price of £249.99, but were being sold for only £120 apiece.

The defendant, who has been homeless for some time, suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had also battled anxiety and depression.

Morris said: “I had some drug debts from last year, which I’d been paying off. But my money got stopped and these Scousers threatened to burn my mum’s house down so I didn’t know what to do.”

A probation officer said that Morris had indicated he was still using heroin - but had sought assistance from the community drugs team.

Morris, whose address was given as care of Market Street, Wigan, admitted the thefts and was given a six-week jail term, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 20 rehabiliation activity days, undertake a nine-month drug rehabilitation order and pay TK Maxx a nominal £200 in compensation.