A GREEN-FINGERED thief rolled up a length of grass from a community park area and walked off with it under his arm.
Michael Archibald committed the crime because he thought the section of turf would look nice in his back garden, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.
His solicitor Barry Gray told justices that this was the first time in his 40–year career that he had ever represented anyone who had stolen a roll of grass, and questioned whether the court had ever had to deal with such an offence.
Mr Gray said: “It’s true to say that I’ve never represented anybody before on theft of turf, and I dare say the court has never had to deal with a case of theft of turf before.
“He simply believed that this turf would look well in his back garden and thought it wouldn’t be missed from the place where he took it.
“It was just a case of rolling it up and walking off with it. It was cheeky and dishonest of course, but it was without an awful lot of thought. He said it was like a rug and he just rolled it up and walked off with it under his arms.
“I have no idea whether it’s back in situe, but you would think that there’s no great skill required for relaying the turf. It’s an inconvenience and for that he apologises.
“It was an inconsiderate and cheeky offence.”
Prosecuting, Peter Milne outlined the offence, which happened in Thornton Street, Hartlepool, saying: “It was 6.45pm on May 17 when the police received a call from a resident in Thornton Street saying they were watching a man pulling up the turf and making off with it.
“He was stopped at the bottom of the street by a police community support officer. Archibald was found in possession of the turf and he was arrested at the scene.
“In interview the defendant said about 10 minutes prior to his arrest he was in the park area of Thornton Street. He pulled it up, rolled it up and made off with it. He admits the offence and said he wanted to put the turf in his own back garden.”
He added: “A supervisor at Hartlepool Borough Council has stated that although the turf has been recovered it will be re-used if possible and if it can’t be re-used then they will have to replace it.
“The turf is measured roughly 6ft by 12ft.”
Archibald, who has 86 offences on his record, pleaded guilty to theft of the grass.
Chairman of the magistrates’ bench John Taylor sentenced Archibald, of Dent Street, Hartlepool, to a six-month conditional discharge, ordered him to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.