A THIEF who stole 11 steaks and three beef joints to fund his drug habit has appeared at court.

Thomas Copping appeared before magistrates sitting at Newton Aycliffe yesterday for three counts of shop theft.

The court heard that the 32-year-old took the meat from The Co-Op in Crook on February 18 this year.

John Garside, prosecuting, said: "The defendant entered the shop, selected the meat products and left without making any attempt to pay. He was later identified by police who viewed CCTV footage.

"Similarly on March 15 in Bishop Auckland he stole laundry products worth £80 from Poundland and on March 16 he stole beauty products of a value unknown from Wilkinson's in the town. He was again identified from CCTV as he is known to shop staff."

Copping, of Tivoli Place, Bishop Auckland, pleaded guilty to all charges. He is currently unemployed and owes the court £4,477.49 in unpaid fines and costs.

Connor Leonard, mitigating, said his client struggled with a heroin addiction that was at the route of his offending.

Copping was given a five month community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement. He was also ordered to pay £97.50 in compensation which will be added to his existing fines account.