A serial offender with 281 previous offences has been put back behind bars after eating a meal at Pizza Hut and politely confessing to the manager that he could not pay the bill.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Tuesday, September 27, how John William Clarke, 52, of no Fixed Abode, ate a pizza and drank a bottle of wine at the restaurant at Ravenside Retail Park, on Markham Road, Chesterfield, before admitting to the manager he only had 42p.
Prosecuting solicitor Rod Chapman said: “The defendant ordered a pizza and a bottle of wine and he stayed in the restaurant consuming the meal for two-and-a-half hours and then approached the manager.
“He asked her to sit down and said he had just been released from prison and he had no money to pay his bill but instead of shoplifting he said he chose to do this but the manager said the matter would have to be reported to the police.”
Clarke told police he had gone to the restaurant about 7pm, on September 21, and ordered the meal, which should have cost £28.10, when he only had 42p.
He accepted that he wanted the manager to call the police because he knew he had breached his prison licence after his release from jail just days before on September 15.
The court heard how Clarke has 198 previous convictions for 281 separate offences including 23 for fraud and kindred matters and 101 theft and kindred matters and he was last jailed for a shop theft.
Clarke, who also has outstanding fines with the court, pleaded guilty to ordering food with no intention of paying and therefore committing fraud by false representation.
Defence solicitor Felicity Coats said: “This speaks of a man in desperation. He went to Pizza Hut and had not eaten or had anything to drink for days and he fully admitted to the manager that he did not have the means to pay.”
Mrs Coats explained that Clarke has found himself in revolving-door prison situation where he goes into custody and comes out and struggles to get benefits and accommodation and ends up going back to prison.
She added: “It’s a sad situation for someone who doesn’t have any other option.
“He was open and honest with the lady manager and she said he was pleasant and sat calmly and he was very polite.”
Despite the circumstances, magistrates stated that committing this offence was no way to behave and they jailed Clarke for 15 weeks.
Clarke was also ordered to pay £28.10 compensation and a £115 victim surcharge.