Prolific offender is given eight-month prison term after arrest warrant issued

A PROLIFIC offender has been sent to prison for eight months after shoplifting and failing to attend his court and probation appointments.

Stephen Smith, of no fixed address, was taken into custody after a warrant was issued for his arrest last week.

He appeared before the town’s magistrates on Wednesday (April 20).

The warrant was issued because 39-year-old Smith had failed to attend court on April 13 after committing a shoplifting offence on March 30.

He pleaded guilty to both the offences on Wednesday and also admitted twice breaching his community orders, imposed for other offences, by failing to attend his probation appointments.

Mark Kately, prosecuting, told magistrates that Smith had gone to Iceland on March 30 and taken four cans of Special Brew, worth around £7, from the Langney Road store.

He put the strong lager under his jacket and left the shop without paying.

Police were called and Smith was later arrested for shoplifting but the items were never recovered.

Mr Kately said Smith had been offending for many years and had been in trouble for shoplifting many times in the past.

The probation service, which had been trying to help Smith with his drug problems, told the court they were unable to work with the defendant due his ‘disengagement and lack of motivation’.

The probation officer in court suggested custody as the most appropriate sentence.

Stuart Grace, defending, said Smith had been staying at the Lynwood Hotel but had lost his accommodation and had little stability in his life as a result.

Mr Grace said Smith’s offending had been linked to drugs but explained he had replaced his addiction to heroin with a dependency on alcohol.

“He is seeking solace in the Special Brew can,” said Mr Grace.

“He has moved from one drug to another.”

Mr Grace also suggested the debilitating effect of alcohol may have caused him not to attend court.

Magistrates revoked the two community orders and sentenced Smith to eight months in custody for shoplifting and one month for failing to surrender to the court.

The two sentences will run concurrently.

The bench said it had imposed a custodial sentence because Smith was a ‘prolific offender’ who had shown a ‘wilful disregard for previous court orders’.