Hotel thief escapes jail

A CASH-STRAPPED Eastbourne man who stole a 40-inch TV from an Eastbourne hotel has escaped an immediate custodial sentence.

Luke King committed the offence just after being released from prison.

He entered the Queens Hotel and asked to use the toilet. Believing he might be a workman the person on reception let him through. Shortly afterwards an alarm sounded and the fire door exit found open.

Eastbourne magistrates heard about 20 minutes later the 21-year-old came back into the building saying he had left his mobile phone behind and was allowed to retrieve it.

The alarm sounded again and staff then found the TV had been taken from the sun lounge.

The general manager of the hotel had seen the defendant walking the streets with the TV and asked him to return it but he said he was moving house.

Police were called and found King, who has recently become a father, hiding in the flat next door to his own. The court heard the TV was not recovered.

The defendant, of Seaside Road, pleaded guilty to theft.

Victoria James, defending, said, “On June 25 he had gone to the hotel. He had shortly been released from prison.

“He’s not in receipt of any money or benefits and the TV was taken for selling immediately to pay for food and he owed money.

“It’s no excuse but the offence was borne out of desperation.

“He does suffer from severe problems with cannabis.

“He said he’s been in Eastbourne for a year and he’s not aware of places like Action For Change. He said he greatly wants help.

“He does see a mental health worker, this is a young man who is aware there’s something wrong that needs to be addressed.

“He accepts he needs to be punished but hopes the court will be able to rehabilitate him today.”

King was given an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and a curfew where he will be electronically tagged and must remain at home between the hours of 8pm and 7am for a four month period. He must also pay £100 in compensation.