A train-hopping thief who stole passengers’ luggage and left them distraught has been jailed after he failed a rehab course to reform him.
Barry Costello, 41, from Billingham, was caught by British Transport police after he was spotted switching trains between Manchester and Teesside.
A female student burst into tears as she reported to a guard that he had tried to take her laptop and iPod after he sat next to her, the court heard.
Costello was asked to leave the Trans-Pennine Express at Northallerton, and CCTV cameras recorded him standing on the platform for an hour before changing into a different jacket and then boarding the Grand Central train heading for Sunderland.
Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that Costello had two holdalls and he was seen with a third holdall that he had removed from the train.
He was arrested, and he said that he had sold an iPad and a MacBook to a taxi driver for £100.
After he was released on bail he returned to Billingham and he went back to the police station with another holdall which he handed to officers.
He made no comment in interview but in a second interview he said that he had travelled to Manchester from Hartlepool for a drug rehabilitation programme but he came home after one night on January 28 .
He said he could not remember taking the MacBook and iPad. He remembered handing in the holdall.
Mr Hadfield said that two victims were so distressed that they could not face travelling by train again. One girl had her medical records stolen, a dad lost sentimental gifts from his daughter, and another had to pay £150 insurance claim excess.
Costello had 14 convictions for 30 offences for theft, burglary and drugs and he had been given suspended prison sentences.
The judge had deferred sentence to to allow him to go on a rehab course for addicts run by a Christian charity but he left after six weeks.
Martin Scarborough, defending, said that Costello had a serious works accident in 1988 and he became addicted to painkillers followed by heroin. He was now off drugs and reunited with his partner.
Judge Howard Crowson said: “You have a terrible record for dishonesty.
“I made it perfectly plain what lay ahead when I deferred your sentence in May. There are some reasons for you to stay out of trouble in the future and that is up to you.”
Costello, formerly of Low Grange Avenue, Billingham, was jailed for eight months after he pleaded guilty to two thefts and an attempted theft from trains on at an earlier hearing.