THE suicide of his girlfriend led a heroin addict back into a life of crime.

Christopher Vincent Paul Henderson’s partner took her own life while he was serving a prison sentence for armed robbery.

The serial criminal and prolific shoplifter was released from jail earlier this year but went on to commit further crimes.

He appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with stealing a bike from Darlington train station and several bottles of gin worth £144 from Morrisons supermarket at Morton Park.

The court heard that it was grief that drove the 40-year-old to steal the alcohol and that he sold the £250 bike for just £15 to buy drugs while under the influence of 'tablets'.

Stephen Andrews, mitigating, said that Henderson had committed the offences at around the time of his late girlfriend’s birthday in April and that much of his previous offending had been linked with his drug habit.

Mr Andrews added: “He was taking tablets at the time and anything else he could lay his hands on and had gone to Morrisons with the intention of taking alcohol to drink himself.

“His state of mind at that moment in time is that he would not have been bothered, having drunk himself into oblivion, whether or not he woke up again, such was the extremity of guilt he was feeling in relation to the death of his partner.”

A victim impact statement was read to the court from the man whose bike was stolen said that it was a gift from his mother.

The man, who works unsociable hours, said that he used it to commute to and from work and that its loss had left him greatly inconvenienced and relying on the use of his friend's bike.

He said that he often secured the bike with a lock at Darlington’s train station and was "fuming" when he discovered it had been taken, when he returned to the station at 1am on April 30.

Henderson, who has 69 previous convictions, sold the bike on but told the court that he had known exactly where it was and wanted to make efforts to get it back for his victim but claimed he had been restrained from doing so by the police.

The court heard that he had been recalled to the probation service as a result of the offences and had been engaging well with their requirements while complying with a methadone programme.

The 40-year-old - of West Moor Road, Darlington – was handed a six month community order with drug rehabilitation requirements and ordered to pay the owner of the bike £250 compensation.