A MAN recently released from prison stole chocolate bars and tracksuit bottoms so he could survive, a court heard.

Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe heard Ian Mulholland was starving when he stole 11 bars of Dairy Milk Bubbly from Sainsbury’s, in Darlington, on Friday, May 16, after being released from prison a week earlier.

Lorraine Cooper, prosecuting, said the 42-year-old, of Borough Road, ate some and sold the rest on at half price.

The former heroin addict also stole three pairs of Adidas tracksuit bottoms worth £74.97 from the town’s Sports Direct store on Monday (May 19).

He admitted two charges of shoplifting and asked for a further offence to be taken into consideration when he appeared at court today (Tuesday, May 20).

In mitigation, Darren Brown said Mulholland had no income after being released from prison and stole the items in desperation.

He said: “He has committed these offences and stolen items that he could sell on for half price and get the money himself, or eat them because he was starving.

“He fully appreciates that he has committed offences. He did it so he could eat, he did it so he could survive.”

Mr Brown said Mulholland now knows he can get help from food banks when he is hungry.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing until June 10 for a pre-sentence report and granted him conditional bail.