Homeless thief struck five times after his Universal Credit benefits had been stopped

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A homeless serial thief has been given a suspended prison sentence after he committed five thefts during one month and used threatening behaviour towards a shop worker.

Mark Meikleham, 39, stole a phone at a Tesco Extra and struck at a Co-op and a Spar store, during September, in Chesterfield.

Prosecuting solicitor Robert Carr told a Chesterfield magistrates’ court hearing on October 9 that Meikleham stole the mobile phone after it had been left at a checkout at Tesco Extra by a staff member.

Mr Carr said: “The owner works on the checkout and left his post for a short period of time to assist a customer and he left his phone on the checkout and came back to find it had disappeared.

“He used a tracker to locate it near the Casa Hotel and it was found badly smashed and someone had tried to disable the tracker and CCTV was recovered from Tesco and an officer identified the defendant.”

Mr Carr added that Meikleham also committed a number of shop thefts from the Co-op, at Grangewood, Chesterfield.

Meikleham was spotted on CCTV stealing goods from the store on September 16, 20 and 21, according to Mr Carr.

And Mr Carr said Meikleham stole boxes of chocolate valued at £34.72 from a Spar store, on Sheffield Road, at Chesterfield, on September 27.

Meikleham also swore and threatened to throw a cup of coffee at a staff member at Boyes, on Cavendish Street, after she had been observing him on September 27.

The homeless defendant, who has a care-of address at of Saltergate, Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft and admitted using threatening behaviour.

Defence solicitor Kirsty Sargent claimed Meikleham had discarded the stolen phone but had not damaged it and she added that he did throw the coffee but he did not throw it at the Boyes staff member.

She added that Meikleham committed the offences to eat and so he could sell goods on for money after his Universal Credit benefits had been stopped and he had no income.

Ms Sargent said: “For the first couple of weeks he tried to get by with a couple of local soup kitchens but they have been closed due to an increase in illness among the homeless community and he resorted to shoplifting.

“He knows he should not have done so and he is disappointed in himself by falling back into thefts when he had been proud of not committing offences or having involvement with the police.”

She added that Meikleham has also been providing negative drug test results.

Meikleham was sentenced to 16 weeks of custody suspended for 12 months with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and he was ordered to pay £50 compensation.