Shoplifter’s help appeal over heroin problem

A HEROIN user with 76 offences on his record asked magistrates for help with his drug problem after appearing in court on a shoplifting charge.

Stuart Peter Armstrong, 25, walked into the VCC Newsagents in Hartlepool and was seen to hide food down his trousers.

Prosecuting, Joanne Hesse told Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court, he was challenged by staff and handed over a pack of bacon, but left without paying for other items.

These were bacon, cheese and an energy drink worth £13.49.

Mrs Hesse said he made full admissions and added he went into the shop intending to ask for a drink of water, but took the items as he had no money on him.

She added Armstrong has 41 convictions for 76 offences on his record, 43 of which were related to dishonesty matters.

He was last before the court in November 2010, when he was made subject to a community order with a curfew.

Armstrong, of Uppingham Street, Hartlepool, admitted theft on March 14 and breaching his curfew on February 26.

Stuart Haywood, mitigating, said Armstrong tested negative for drugs upon his arrest but urged magistrates to consider a drug rehabilitation requirement as part of his punishment.

He said Armstrong had a drug problem “to such an extent he would like some help” and added: “If he doesn’t get help he is just setting himself up for another fall.”

Magistrates adjourned the hearing until Wednesday for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, and Armstrong was granted unconditional bail.