A MAN who stole two bottles of whiskey was caught after an off-duty police officer spotted him carrying out the offence.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that the officer witnessed Graeme Myers walked out of a Co-Op store in Newton Hall without making any attempt to pay for the alcohol.

Joanne Hesse, prosecuting, said Myers had 42 convictions for 80 offences, 53 of which were theft.

The 42-year-old pleaded guilty to one charge of theft from a shop on Wednesday, September 18.

Myers, of Southburn Rise, Sacriston, was represented in court by Paul Donoghue.

Mr Donoghue said: “He has been out of trouble for around two and a half years now and tells me he has got himself in a bit of a mess.

“He feels like he is becoming addicted to pregabalin.

“He said he could really do with some help and support with things that are going on in his personal life including a bereavement.”

Chair of the bench, Martin Slimings, said: “You have, to an extent, kept out of trouble for a couple of years to your credit.

“People think magistrates are social services but we are not.

“Because of your previous offending behaviour this could demand more than a community order.”

Magistrates sentenced Myers to a 12 month community order with a requirement to complete ten rehabilitation activity days.

He must also pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £90.