Homeless shoplifter steals to survive in Fakenham

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A prolific shoplifter and homeless alcoholic begged a court for help after saying he only stole to survive.

Hempton man David Hastings said: “I need help because I’ve dug myself a deep hole and I can’t get out. I only shoplift to survive. I’ve got nothing.”

Hastings’ solicitor John Clark said the 44-year-old was “as low as he could get in society” when he appeared before Lynn magistrates on Tuesday and admitted stealing a toaster, worth £29.99, from Hughes Electrical in Fakenham.

Susanna Chowdhury, prosecuting, said a member of staff saw him take the item and followed him to the nearby Cash Factory, where he was planning to sell it.

Mr Clark said Hastings was given an 18-month community order for shoplifting last August, but his offending has continued while he battles his alcoholism and he was jailed for a period last year.

He also said his wife threw him out on Saturday, leaving him homeless.

“He has no money, he is an alcoholic, he has been turned out by his wife and he faces prison. I’m at a bit of a loss as what to say on his behalf,” he told the court.

Magistrates sentenced Hastings to 14-days in custody, suspended for 12 months. The existing community order, with alcohol treatment requirement, will continue.