Scratch card thief walks free
A thief who stole a pile of scratch cards from a shop has won his freedom from jail.
Peter Stead, 34, from Hartlepool, had only been out of prison a few days when he stole Â£234 worth of Scratchcards from WH Smith in the town.
But, he was caught nearby before he had time to scratch any of them.
A day later on February 3 he was jailed for 14 weeks by Teesside Magistrates for theft and possession of some cannabis found in his pocket.
But, his luck turned yesterday when he successfully appealed the sentence at Teesside Crown Court.
The sentence was suspended for one year plus a drugs rehabilitation order and a 15 days rehab requirement.
Stead, of Lealholm Road, Hartlepool, who had pleaded guilty, was told that he would be released immediately.
Andrew Teate, defending, said that Stead went into Smith's on February 2 where he bought a bottle of pop and a newspaper spending Â£1.50.
He was arrested shortly afterwards in the shopping centre and the cards were recovered unused so the store suffered no loss.
Mr Teate said: "He saw that the scratch cards were on display with no one in attendance and he took them."
Mr Teate said that although Stead had an horrific record of shop theft offences, this was one offence of theft which had earned him a 14 weeks jail sentence."
He said that the cannabis found on him on his arrest had been returned to him by the prison authorities on his release on January 27 as part of his possessions.
The judge told Stead that his previous shoplifting offences had no doubt been committed to get money for Class A drugs.
Judge Simon Hickey said that Stead was obviously going to sell the scratch cards, but a suspended sentence could be imposed with the threat that it would become immediate if he re-offended after taking a drugs course and rehabilitation.