A thief stole bottles of vodka in a shoplifting spree targeting two shops within hours
Paul Hedley sold two stolen bottles of vodka for £30 that he had shoplifted from a Hartlepool supermarket before stealing two more spirits from another store.
A court heard the offences happened just seven months after Hedley, who has more than 100 convictions on his record, was released from prison.
But he was given a conditional discharge after magistrates heard he had otherwise kept out of trouble since his release.
Prosecutor Rachel Dodsworth told Teesside Magistrates' Court Hedley stole the first two bottles at 8.40am.
"He entered a Morrison's store in Hartlepool with another man," said Ms Dodsworth.
"Hedley had brought his own shopping bag which he put into a trolley.
"He put the bottles of spirits in the trolley and covered them with the shopping bag.
"As he left the store he made no attempt to pay for any items."
The court heard Hedley was seen entering a B&M Bargains store at about noon on the same day.
"On that occasion he was seen to select a bottle of Absolut vodka and a bottle of Jagermeister," said Ms Dodsworth.
"Staff became suspicious, and Hedley was seen removing the security tags from the bottles.
"The store manager detained him as he made to leave.
"When interviewed by police, Hedley said he had already sold the first two bottles for £30.
"They were never recovered, but the bottles stolen from B&M were recovered."
Hedley, 43, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, admitted two offences of theft, both on May 16.
He has 117 previous convictions.
Neil Taylor, defending, said: "This is Mr Hedley's only offending since being released from prison.
"He has not otherwise offended since 2016, although he has been in custody for some of the intervening period.
"The Probation Service confirm he has been doing well on his post-sentence supervision.
"Mr Hedley has stable accommodation, and he has sought treatment for his drugs and mental health difficulties.
"He did have problems understanding the benefits change to Universal Credit.
"These offences were committed because he had simply run out of money."
Hedley was sentenced to conditional discharge of six months, and ordered to pay £135 in compensation and costs.