'Shops in this area must despair' - Prolific Hartlepool thief with nearly 200 crimes on record jailed

A prolific thief was found carrying two blades after being detained by security staff at a Hartlepool store.

Thursday, 16th June 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 12:52 pm

Paul Downing, 50, has 200 offences on his record spanning 30 years with a judge saying it has reached the point where the court is now “weighing it” instead of counting its pages.

Downing stole four bottles of perfume worth £200 from TK Maxx at Anchor Retail Park on March 11 which was caught on CCTV.

A store security guard collared him when he want back to the shop just 10 minutes later and he was taken to a holding room to await the police.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

TK Maxx at Anchor Retail Park in Hartlepool.

Christopher Bevan, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “The security guard then observed the defendant fiddling with his pockets and then pulling out a knife described at a length of three inches.

"He says in hindsight that he believed that this was done in an attempt to have him release the defendant from the holding room.”

The security guard grabbed Downing’s wrist and disarmed him.

Mr Bevan added: “The security guard restrained the arms of the defendant until the police then arrived.”

Downing was arrested and when his belongings were searched police found an umbrella which had been modified to hide a blade.

And upon being strip searched at the police station, officers found a number of non-prescribed tablets on him.

Downing, of Helmsley Street, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to theft, two counts of having a bladed article in public and two of possession of a class C drug.

Judge Howard Crowson said local shops must “despair" of him, adding: “You’ve had sentences that span almost every possible sentence a court could impose upon you; custody, suspended custody, conditional discharges, community orders.

"You’ve tried drug rehabilitation orders and none of it really worked.”

Downing’s record contained 195 offences – including 116 thefts – from 92 separate convictions.

The court heard drugs were the cause of most of his offending.

Paul Abrahams, mitigating, said Downing had reverted to taking tablets again after staying out of trouble for almost three years following the death of his long-term partner.

Mr Abrahams said: “He needed money for food so he stole the perfume.” He said the knife was for personal protection.

Downing was jailed for seven months and ordered to pay £156 compensation to TK Maxx.

Read More

Read More
Controlling boyfriend threw partner into Hartlepool road and launched vicious at...