Thief clocks up offence number 126

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A PROLIFIC thief with a “horrendous” criminal record boasting more than 120 offences has avoided jail.

Graham Alan Barratt told Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court that he committed his 126th offence because he was homeless, “sofa-surfing”, and needed to buy food at the time.

Justices spared the 28-year-old custody and instead sentenced him to a four-month prison sentence suspended for a year, a 12-month community order with supervision and a drug rehabilitation requirement, and ordered him to pay £79.17 compensation.

Prosecuting Joanne Hesse told justices that Barratt rode a pedal cycle to the Morrisons petrol station, in Clarence Road, and went inside the store where he helped himself to eight jars of coffee worth £19.92 and left without paying.

The thief then went into the One Stop shop, picked up several washing powder packets and a jar of coffee, valued at £59.25, and again left without handing over any cash for the goods.

Mrs Hesse said: “He was recorded on CCTV and was arrested. He admitted the offences in interview and said he’d stolen the items to pay for food, drink and rent. He tested negative for Class A drugs in the police station.

“He already has 124 offences to his name covering 51 convictions, and 83 of those offences are for matters of a dishonest nature.”

Probation officer Doug I’Anson said that Barratt had “not been doing great” on the community order he was sentenced to on April 20 this year, with less than half of his arranged appointments unattended.

“He has a horrendous conviction rate,” he said. “It is correct to say he was ‘sofa-surfing’ at the time of these offences.”

Barratt, whose address in court was given as The Front, Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to the first theft on April 19 and the second on April 30.

Mitigating, Stuart Haywood said his client’s record was “indicative of a long-standing addiction to illicit substances” and he has had problems with accommodation.

He said: “He was effectively stealing to feed himself and was homeless. However, he has secured fixed and permanent accommodation as of today.”