A shoplifter who commits crime to fund a drug addiction risked activation of a two-year prison sentence when he stole butter from a store where he was barred.

Kieton Pearson received the 24-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, in July last year, for the attempted robbery of a shop manager and possessing a knife in public.

The offence related to the defendant and an accomplice attempting to steal items on a shoplifting mission, in March last year.

But when challenged by the shop manager, the stolen items were retrieved, despite Pearson indicating he had a knife.

He was told to leave and did so but returned later and told the manager: “Sorry mate”.

Newcastle Crown Court was told despite further offences of shop theft committed since, Pearson was dealt with both times by way of community orders and the suspended sentence order remains unactivated.

The Northern Echo: Kieton Pearson risked activation of a suspended two-year prison sentence by stealing butter from a

But he was back before the court today (Wednesday February 7) having committed another shop theft, at Tesco, in Front Street, Hetton-le-Hole, on December 19.

Shada Mellor, prosecuting, told the court he was seen coming in and was known to staff as he was barred from the premises.

Despite this, he placed 22 packs of Lurpak butter, worth approximately £95, into a bag he brought in with him, and left.

Miss Mellor said the 24-year-old defendant, of High Street, Easington Lane, who admitted the latest theft charge when he appeared before magistrates, has now 37 convictions for 71 offences on his record, including 29 of theft and similar crimes.

The Northern Echo:

Vic Laffey, representing Pearson, said he has been given chances by way of community orders for his previous two theft offences, but has now been on remand in custody in Durham Prison for the past six weeks.

“Things haven’t moved on a great deal, but when he’s interviewed by the Probation Service he has always been brutally honest with them about the problems he’s facing.

“He has struggled with substance misuse over the course of the recent past and it is something that has blotted his life.”

Mr Laffey said trying to deal with a property tenancy, maintaining contact with the Probation Service and dealing with his addiction, he “fell by the wayside” complying with previous court orders.

“His desire to get on top of his drug problem is a genuine one and he’s working hard with the drug rehabilitation element of past sentences.

“What is quite clear is that he’s desperate to put the drug problems behind him and, while he’s been in custody these last few weeks, he has worked very hard with the drug and alcohol recovery team in prison.

“He understands he’s been given a couple of chances and understands the situation he has placed himself in.”

Recorder Anthony Dunne told Pearson it seems “disproportionate” to activate a two-year prison sentence for an offence of shoplifting of butter.

“There seems to be little to be gained by sending him to prison for a short time, which would be the appropriate sentence.

“But, while he’s still subject to the sanction of the suspended sentence order, and by extending the drug rehabilitation requirement, it may be the appropriate way to deal with him.”

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Recorder Dunne imposed a two-month prison sentence but added three months to Pearson’s existing drug rehabilitation requirement working with the Probation Service.

He said the effect of the sentence, given time the defendant has served on remand, may mean his immediate release from prison.

But he warned Pearson that the existing two-year suspended prison sentence still hangs over him, should he commit further offences.