Prolific shoplifter jailed after being convicted of theft 121 times

The B&Q store, Trimdon Street, Deptford, Sunderland.
The B&Q store, Trimdon Street, Deptford, Sunderland.

A prolific shoplifter has been jailed after being convicted of theft for the 121st time.

Lee Graham, 42, was sentenced to 23 weeks in prison after stealing from a DIY store with girlfriend Michelle McLean, 35.

Lee Graham

Lee Graham

McLean, who also has a number of previous convictions on her record, was given eight weeks’ custody, suspended for a year.

Sunderland magistrates heard the couple had travelled to the city from their home in Peterlee, on September 23, equipped with foil-lined bags.

On arrival in the city, they visited B&W on Trimdon Street, where they took decorating items worth £188.25.

The pair, of Delaval Close, Peterlee, pleaded guilty to theft.

Michelle McLean

Michelle McLean

McLean also admitted a shop theft, committed on August 26, at Asda, where she stole clothing and alcohol valued at £275.

Graham was sentenced in his absence, after he left the court.

Prosecutor Lee Poppett said Graham has 120 previous thefts on his record.

The pair’s solicitor, Penny Hall, said he’d had to attend hospital after he claimed he vomited blood in the court hall, and asked for an adjournment.

However, on consulting with a security guard, there appeared to be no evidence of this having taken place.

The bench, chaired by Anthony Hewison, said they would sentence Graham in his absence.

Mr Hewison said: “Mr Graham is in breach of a suspended sentence order.

“We note that it is 18-weeks long and of 18 months’ duration.

“We are activating 11 weeks of that suspended prison sentence.

“We do this because he has breached many, many court orders, he went equipped and travelled a long distance to commit this offence.

Turning to McLean, Mr Hewison said: “You are subject to a conditional discharge, you keep re-offending.

“You went equipped and you travelled a fair distance to commit that theft.

“You have therefore passed the custody threshold.

“If you commit another offence within the next 12 months, you will have the sentence activated and you will go to prison”

Both defendants were each told to pay £115 victim surcharge.