£215 trolley dash thief walks free

IT really was a trolley dash when a brazen thief tried to run from a supermarket without paying.

Raymond Leonard Downing went into Asda, in Marina Way, Hartlepool, and filled a trolley with groceries totalling £215.73 and tried to leave without paying for them.

But the hard-up 40-year-old was caught red-handed when he was stopped on the way out by the store’s security guards.

Prosecuting, Lilian Atkinson told justices that Downing told police he had been experiencing money difficulties and had “taken a chance, but it never paid off.”

Downing, of Milton Road, Hartlepool, appeared at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to the theft on May 20.

Mitigating, Stuart Haywood said his client had been struggling on the £56 benefit he had been receiving each week and took the “opportunity” to take the trolley when he was in the supermarket.

“Mr Downing has been struggling to make ends meet with the £56-a-week benefit he is on,” he said. “He’s finding it difficult to pay for rent, bills, and groceries.

“He has previous convictions for theft and the reason for the trolley dash is that he saw an opportunity and took it.

“Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for Asda stores, the items were recovered. There’s been no loss at all to Asda.”

But, chairman of the magistrates’ bench Keith Fisher refused to believe the theft was an opportunist crime.

He said: “I cannot believe, as was so eloquently put to us, that this was an opportunist theft. I put it to you that there wasn’t a trolley stood there with £215 of grub in it.

“It wasn’t an opportunity it was quite deliberate, you took the decision.

“We recognise your financial problem, but we do not recognise the way you are trying to address it.”

Mr Fisher sentenced Downing to a 12-month conditional discharge saying: “It will put you to the test.”