Drug user stole Milk Tray boxes from Asda ‘to give as Christmas presents’

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A drug user stole boxes of chocolates to sell and to give as Christmas presents.

James Picken tried to leave Asda in Marina Way, Hartlepool, with boxes of Milk Tray valued at £39, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.

Asda Marina Way, Hartlepool

Asda Marina Way, Hartlepool

“It’s a straightforward shop theft,” said John Garside, prosecuting.

“The stolen items were on display in the foyer of Asda.

“Picken was challenged by security staff, who called the police.

“He told the officers he intended to sell some of the boxes to get money for drugs, and keep some to use as Christmas presents.

“All of the stolen chocolates were recovered.”

Picken, 34, of Rium Terrace, Hartlepool, admitted theft on December 10, and he admitted breaching a conditional discharge imposed for an earlier offence of theft.

Neil Taylor, defending, said in mitigation: “The underlying problem for Mr Picken is drugs, and it’s a huge problem for him.

“He has recognised that issue, and is now getting help with it.

“There are long gaps in his offending record, and when he does work he gets well-paid work as a welder.

“He is genuinely motivated to deal with his drugs problem, which will enable him to take on jobs again.”

District Judge Andrew Meachin sentenced Picken to a community order of 12 months, including a rehabilitation activity requirement of 20 days.

Picken was ordered to pay costs and court surcharges of £345, which will be deducted from his benefits.