Supermarket liquor stolen by the gallon

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A SERIAL thief who stole nearly £1,500 worth of spirits on eight trips to the supermarket has escaped jail.

Ryan Charlton, from Newtown, was fined and handed a suspended sentence after visiting the Co-operative store in Standish again and again over an 11-day period between February 1 and 12, helping himself to bottles of whisky, vodka, rum and gin without being challenged.

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard his hauls included taking 10 bottles of spirits on February 1 and a dozen bottles on February 11, with the value of the stolen items on the latter occasion totalling nearly £285.

The court was told how Charlton, 28, placed the alcohol into a bag and left the store without making any attempt to pay during the spate of thefts, with staff finally chasing him from the store on February 12 and alerting police, who identified him using CCTV footage.

Katie Beattie, prosecuting, said the Co-op had lost £1,486.56 worth of alcohol, and none of the items had been recovered.

Charlton, of Albert Street, admitted three counts of theft and asked for a further five offences to be taken into consideration.

When tested by police officers, Charlton was found to have cocaine and heroin in his system and confessed he had problems with a drug habit.

He admitted he had stolen the spirits to sell on, and had stopped after February 12 as being stopped by a store security guard had “spooked” him.

Bill Pearson, defending, said: “Drugs are the root cause of his problems.

“His partner is expecting their second child and his drug problems have begun to escalate with this new-found sense of responsibility.

“He feels his family’s needs are greater than his benefits cover, and becoming desperate he resorted to theft. These are some of the least sophisticated offences you will ever see, making no attempt to cover his face.

“It is quite plain he was always going to be caught. He is now on a voluntary drug treatment and has a prescription for a heroin substitute.

“He will do absolutely anything to get clean of drugs, and I ask for an order which will enable him to do that.”

The magistrates gave Charlton a four-month sentence suspended for nine months and gave him a further month-long suspended sentence for breaching a previous conditional discharge.

He was ordered to comply with drug rehab and supervision requirements and to pay £420 in compensation with a victim’s surcharge of £80, to be deducted each fortnight from Jobseeker’s Allowance.