A JUDGE jailed an “inveterate shoplifter” for two years to give traders in the North-East a break from his crimes.

Scott King went on a four-month stealing spree which also included assaults on two store guards who tried to stop him.

The 37-year-old has an incredible 105 convictions for theft stretching over 25 years, Teesside Crown Court heard.

In September and October, he targeted a Tesco Extra shop on Roker Retail Park, and Morrisons supermarket, both in Sunderland, stealing alcohol.

He also took £252 worth of stock from Toys R Us, and then was caught trying to steal from a Primark in the city, prosecutor Jonathan Harley said.

When a security guard from the budget fashion chain chased and detained him, King struggled and twice tried to bite him.

In December, he was spotted in Boots at Teesside Park, Stockton, with a huge bag stuffed with £1,000 worth of fragrances.

He was challenged by a security guard, King shoved him, fought to get free, and both men ended up on the ground.

A business impact statement from Boots said the company was badly affected by store thefts.

Nick Lane, mitigating, said King had struggled with a heroin addiction for many years, but five years ago was put on a drug rehabilitation order by a court, and “seized it with both hands”.

He met a new partner, moved to Stanley in County Durham, and had two children, the court heard yesterday.

But after the break-up of their relationship, he drifted back to Sunderland to be closer to his family and “fell into his old crowd and old habits”, said Mr Lane.

The barrister urged the court to consider a suspended sentence, saying King would make use again of a drug treatment and testing order, with monthly reviews.

Jailing him for two years, Judge Tony Briggs told him: “You are an inveterate shoplifter. The catalogue of this shoplifting is serious, indeed.

“What you were doing was just wholesale shoplifting, stealing goods that were easily disposed of or consumed by you.

“The shopkeepers from the North-East deserve a rest from your activities, and they will have a rest.”

King, of Aldershot Road, Sunderland, admitted four thefts and two assaults.