Drug addict from Hartlepool threatened a shopworker with a needle during a shoplifting spree just days after being released from prison
A heroin addict who plagued Hartlepool shops for cash to feed his addiction has been jailed for more than two years.
Andrew Tobin, 38, continued shoplifting days after his release from prison and even after a failed robbery attempt while armed with a drugs needle.
The judge who sentenced him at Teesside Crown Court said that he had caused all sorts of problems for Hartlepool shopkeepers and their staff.
He had more than 100 convictions for store thefts and having weapons including a knife.
Tobin has been in prison for a total of 15 years in the past 20 years, said Ian Mullarkey, defending.
He was caught on in-store CCTV when he stole meat, cheese and toiletries worth hundreds of pounds from five convenience stores in just over a week last July, said prosecutor Rachel Masters.
Days later he went into a Premier store on Cornwall Street, Hartlepool, at 6.30am on July 19 with his hood up and appearing drugged to the lone woman assistant.
She became worried but he left saying “I’ve forgotten my card”.
Miss Masters said: “He returned 10 minutes later and came over to the counter saying ‘I want money’
“She said that in his left hand he had a needle, waving it back and forward threatening her. She told him that the police were on their way but he continued to stand there.
“A man came and she asked the man to help her. The defendant left the store.”
Miss Masters said that the assistant told him that the manager was coming and that the police were on the way, and he walked out but 30 minutes later he went into a One Stop shop on Catcote Road and stole £76 worth of meat.
He was arrested later that day and he made no comment in interview.
Judge Stephen Ashurst told him: “I accept that you have been struggling with heroin addiction for years, and I have no doubt that these problems have been brought to the attention of the courts, in particular the magistrates’ courts where you have been a regular attender for years.
“You must have come out of prison in June and a spate of shoplifting must have started almost straight away.”
The judge added: “It’s clear that you have caused all manner of problems for shopkeepers and their staff in Hartlepool.
“This case was adjourned to allow all shopkeepers and their assistants to provide a Victim Impact statement.
“When you are in custody serving this sentence it may be that you take a view that you start addressing your drugs problem with some seriousness.”
Tobin, of Wynyard Road, Hartlepool, who appeared over a videolink from Durham Prison, was jailed for two and a half years after he pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and five offences of shoplifting.