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Magistrates throw a serial thief a lifeline in his battle to beat drugs

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A serial thief has been given a chance to beat his drug addiction by merciful magistrates but they warned that if there is any further offending he could face jail.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Wednesday, August 8, how Gareth Fox, 39, of Macclesfield Road, Buxton, admitted committing seven thefts and twice failed to attend previous court hearings.

Prosecuting solicitor Lynn Bickley said Fox admitted stealing clothing from the Mountain Warehouse, in Buxton, in September, last year, but he failed to attend court and he had also pleaded guilty to four shop thefts from April, 2018, and he had been due in court in May but had also failed to attend this hearing.

Fox, who finally appeared in court on August 8 after being arrested, also pleaded guilty to stealing a coat from Divine Trash, at the Cavendish Arcade, in Buxton, on March 26, and a bouncy castle from an Aldi store on July 18. The court also heard that Fox had also breached a previously imposed conditional discharge.

Defence solicitor Paul Green said Fox had failed to attend court the first time because he was suffering with tonsillitis and he failed to attend court a second time because he claimed mail posted to his address was going missing.

Mr Green added: “Regarding the shoplifting charges, this is a man who has been a heroin addict for the last 24 years of his life.

“He understands and appreciates he needs to change and he cannot go on like this and he steals from shops in order to feed his habit which is a £30 or £40 a day drug habit.”

Magistrates sentenced Fox to 26 weeks in custody suspended for 24 months with Drug Rehabilitation Requirement, a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and a Thinking Skills Programme.

Fox was also ordered to pay £404.99 in compensation and was warned he could face jail if he re-offends.