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Christopher Hewitt spared jail by King’s Lynn magistrates after stealing olive trees from Morrisons

A man has narrowly avoided a jail term after “coming to terms” with his alcohol problems following a supermarket theft.

Lynn resident Christopher Hewitt, 39, breached a suspended sentence by stealing two olive trees worth £60 from Morrisons in late March.

That order had been handed to him in September last year, before he breached it in November and had it extended to last for 24 months.

Christopher Hewitt narrowly avoided jail when he appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court
Christopher Hewitt narrowly avoided jail when he appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court

The court was told of Hewitt’s “fairly horrendous” criminal record which saw him commit 59 thefts between 2002 and 2023.

However, in mitigation, duty solicitor George Sorrell told magistrates that Hewitt has been working hard to reduce his alcohol consumption - and argued it would be “unjust” to send him to prison just as he starts to recover.

Magistrates therefore opted not to activate the suspended sentence, and instead fined Hewitt £100 for breaching it.

He will also pay £60 in compensation for the stolen trees.

Hewitt, who currently lives in homeless accommodation, had originally picked up three of the trees from Morrisons and left the store without paying, but left one behind - meaning it was recovered.

The theft was captured on CCTV footage, and Hewitt admitted to the offence straightaway.

Mr Sorrell said: “He was very drunk. The intoxication is not something new to him, as you will see from his alcohol treatment order.

“But for the first time in many years, he is coming to terms with this, and he really has managed to turn a corner.

“Recently, he completed a detox programme which was voluntary. He detoxed himself. He is now off alcohol.

“Because of the achievements he has made, which in the context of his lifestyle are to be commended, he has been given the opportunity any time now to take up residence in his own one-bedroom flat.

“So it all looks so much better, which could be at risk today for the sake of a couple of olive trees which he didn’t need. He wouldn’t be able to look after them.

“I am asking you to find in the context of the offence itself - it was spur of the moment - and in view of the progress he has made, that it would be unjust to deprive him of his liberty just as he had stepped onto that ladder that could take him up to a better place.”

Probation officer Lewis Spicer did tell magistrates that Hewitt has also breached a court order by failing to attend two meetings with the service.

However, he added: “Overall, positive.”

Bearing all of this in mind, magistrates opted not to activate the suspended sentence.

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