AN opportunistic thief who swiped a Buddha ornament and half a dozen llama planters from a supermarket garden centre voluntarily told police about it, a court heard.

Daniel Joseph Coatsworth told a police officer in Bishop Auckland that he “did the Morrisons job” before explaining how he climbed through a broken window and helped himself to £77 worth of goods.

The 27-year-old, who was already subject of a suspended prison sentence for a string of previous thefts, pleaded guilty to one charge of non-dwelling burglary and theft.

Alan Davison, prosecuting, said: “Credit to Mr Coatsworth that he reported himself by approaching a police officer outside of Bishop Auckland police station the day after the offence and telling him that he ‘did the Morrisons job'.

“He said he was walking past the store in Bishop Auckland when he noticed that a Perspex window had been smashed.

“He said he did not do the damage but he did take the opportunity to take £77 worth of goods from the store including a Buddha ornament.”

Coatsworth also made off with seven llama planters, four dinosaur planters and two glass lights.

Jaxon Taylor, mitigating, said: “This case is unusual in how it gets to court.

“The defendant felt it appropriate to speak to a police officer and without that it seems unlikely that he would be sitting here today, given that there is no CCTV footage, no witnesses and no forensic evidence.

“He simply wanted to get it off his chest because he didn’t want anything to come back and bite him in the future because he had finally managed to sort out his own accommodation.”

Mr Taylor said his client was already subject to two community orders and had been given eight weeks is prison, suspended for 12 months, at his most recent court appearance.

He added: “He is working well with probation and my view is that although this is a burglary offence it would not have affected the sentence that was imposed.”

Keith Richardson, chair of the bench at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, said: “It is to your credit that you have admitted this theft, but better than that, don’t commit the offence in the first place.

“We accept that you are already working well with probation and hope that that will continue.”

Coatsworth, of Woodlands Road, Bishop Auckland, was ordered to pay £77 compensation to Morrisons.