Hartlepool man stole almost £8,000 luxury duty free goods from P&O ferry and Newcastle and Heathrow airports

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A Hartlepool man travelled from place to place in order to steal luxury duty free goods worth almost £8,000.

Michael Gales was responsible for a series of “sophisticated and planned” thefts from airports and a ferry including a £1,200 bottle of whiskey.

He booked boarding cards in order to gain access to duty free stores inside airports and steal, Teesside Crown Court heard.

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He has now been jailed for five months for five separate thefts of perfume, aftershave, hair straighteners, alcohol and cigarettes totalling £7,747.

Michael Gales outside of Teesside Magistrates Court after an earlier appearance. Picture by FRANK REIDMichael Gales outside of Teesside Magistrates Court after an earlier appearance. Picture by FRANK REID
Michael Gales outside of Teesside Magistrates Court after an earlier appearance. Picture by FRANK REID

In July last year Gales, 35, reacted aggressively when he was challenged by staff on board a P&O ferry sailing to Dover.

He was seen putting four bottle of perfumes that had their security tags removed into a bin.

Gales ran to his car on the boarding deck pushing passengers out of his way, said prosecutor Tabitha Buck.

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Eight more bottles of perfume were found in his Audi 3 together with GHD hair straighteners. The goods were worth over £2,500 in total.

Gales stole from a World Duty Free store at Newcastle Airport.Gales stole from a World Duty Free store at Newcastle Airport.
Gales stole from a World Duty Free store at Newcastle Airport.

Gales was questioned by police and released.

But on December 17 he stole perfumes valued at £3,500 from a World Duty Free store at Newcastle Airport, and £243 of cigarettes from Heathrow Airport.

He was caught on CCTV putting the items into a backpack.

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A few days later he stole a limited bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey priced £1,245 from Heathrow Airport.

Gales, of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft earlier before magistrates.

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The crown court judge, Recorder Aisha Wadoodi, said: “This isn’t walking into a shop and taking a tin of coffee or loaf of bread.

"This is buying boarding cards on two occasions, and no doubt a passenger ticket for a ferry, and then stealing high value luxury items.

“This is sophisticated and planned.”

The court heard he had similar convictions on his record relating to Dublin and Krakow in Poland where he has been in court.

Gales worked as a well paid cable puller until being involved in a car crash last year.

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Kelly Clarke, mitigating, said he was a dad and prison would impact his children, and there was a realistic chance of rehabilitation.

But Recorder Wadoodi said Gales knew “exactly what you were doing” and it called for immediate jail.