One last chance for drug user

MAGISTRATES gave a heroin user one last chance after hearing how the drug had taken over his life.

Stuart Peter Armstrong, 25, was sentenced to a 12-month community order after admitting stealing bacon, cheese and an energy drink worth £13.49 from VCC newsagents in Hartlepool on March 14.

He appeared at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court last week and his solicitor urged justices to consider giving him drugs help.

Armstrong, of the town’s Uppingham Street, was granted his wish and he was granted a six-month drug rehabilitation order alongside the community order.

Justices heard he has an “appalling record” for lack of attendance on supervision sessions on his current community order.

But magistrates’ bench chairman Peter Heron told him: “This is very much your last chance.

“This is a golden opportunity for you to start on the road to recovery.

“But if there are any further lapses with orders or reoffending you will most probably receive a custodial sentence.”

Armstrong also admitted breaching a one-month 6pm-6am curfew on February 26 and March 3.

A probation service spokeswoman told the court: “His offender manager tells me his attendance is appalling.

“We have grave concerns over his ability to complete a drug rehabilitation order.

“It is the best option, but he needs to attend as well in order for the probation order to work.”

Stuart Haywood, mitigating, said Armstrong had a problem attending appointments because “heroin is his first priority and everything else comes second”.

He said an order was “available and necessary” and sending him to prison would not have any long-term benefits.

Armstrong must also pay £13.49 compensation and £85 costs.