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TJ Hughes shoplifter returned to Hartlepool store two days later carrying knife

The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

A shoplifter was jailed for six months after he returned to the scene of his crime with a knife in his pocket.

Anthony Middleton, who has more than 140 previous convictions, stole from T J Hughes in Hartlepool with the help of an accomplice.

An alert security guard recognised Middleton when he returned to the store a few days later on his own, Teesside Magistrates' Court heard.

"The theft was captured on CCTV," said Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting.

"Middleton and a female accomplice can be seen filling a bag with beauty products before leaving the store.

"Two days later Middleton returned to the store on his own.

"On this occasion he was recognised by a security guard."

The court heard Middleton was taken to a holding room in the store.

"He was seen to drop a three-inch straight-bladed knife onto the floor," said Mr Pettengell.

"He then tried to conceal the knife by placing one of his feet on top of it.

"The guard saw what he regarded as suspicious foot movements."

Middleton, 50, of St Ann's Court. Hartlepool, admitted possessing a bladed article on July 1.

He denied theft on June 29, but admitted the charge on the day of his trial after being shown the CCTV footage.

John Relton, defending, said: "It cannot be often the court deals with a case from start to finish in barely more than two weeks.

"The defence should be congratulated for waiving our right to see a number of documents in the interests of getting this case dealt with sooner rather than later.

"Mr Middleton couldn't properly plead guilty to the theft until he was shown the CCTV footage, which he has only seen for the first time today.

"He always accepted the knife offence.

"The knife was lying in the road, and Mr Middleton stupidly picked it up and put it in his pocket.

"What he should have done is left it, or taken it to the police station.

"There is no suggestion he brandished it, or used it to threaten anybody."

Middleton qualifies for a minimum sentence of six months because he has a previous conviction for carrying a blade, the court was told.

"The previous conviction was some time ago in 2011," said Mr Relton.

"Mr Middleton tells me it was more like a screwdriver than a knife, it was something he used to break into cars.

"He has to accept the record is accurate, but the court may feel the previous offence and the present one are not the most serious of their type.

"There is no violence on what has to be said is a long record."

Middleton was jailed for six months, and ordered to pay £64.91 compensation to T J Hughes.

The knife was confiscated and will be destroyed.