A PROLIFIC thief who stole three joints of gammon on the same day he was sentenced for four other thefts has been spared jail for the third time.

44-year-old Brad Roberts said he stole to pay back a debt for heroin he had ran up after allowing a drug dealer to live with him.

Rehana Haque, prosecuting, said Roberts was before magistrates on Monday, October 7, and went on to steal the meat from a Co-Op store in Murton on that evening.

Roberts, of Beech Avenue, Murton, pleaded guilty to the shop theft on October 7 and driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance on October 5.

The offences were the second time Roberts breached a suspended prison sentence which was not activated by magistrates.

Jaxon Taylor, mitigating, said Roberts had travelled to Seaham with his partner to pick up their mephedrone prescription and after she felt unfit to drive, he got behind the wheel.

He said: “He thought his disqualification had finished and didn’t realise he was still disqualified.”

Adding: “They [Roberts and his partner] allowed an associate to stay with them and didn’t realise he was selling heroin.

"He began giving them drugs and they thought they were getting them complimentary but it became clear they were running up a debt.

"The man has been repeatedly attending the house and demanding money which has been causing his partner a lot of distress.

"The man is well built and whilst the defendant tells me he is not fearful, his partner is. He stole the meat to pay back the debt.”

Martin Slimings, chair of the bench, said: “We find that it would be unjust to activate the sentence today due to the time you have spent on curfew previously and because you care for your partner.”

Roberts was sentenced to a 12 week curfew and ordered to pay £91 compensation for the items he stole.