A DRUG addict who stole more than £300 from Tesco Express in central Harrogate has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Martin Lee Wilkinson, 33, pleaded guilty to burglary at the shop last Friday, November 4, when he appeared before magistrates in Harrogate on Monday.
Magistrates were told Wilkinson had forced open the automatic doors to the Cambridge Street shop as staff cashed up and took £315 in notes from the top of a till before leaving. But a firefighter who was in the area spotted Wilkinson and confronted him outside.
The court heard Wilkinson had a string of convictions which culminated in a jail sentence in 2009, and had been given a supervision order and drug rehabilitation requirement by Harrogate magistrates just a week before.
Defending, Geoffrey Rogers told the court it had been an opportunist theft and had followed a number of difficulties in Willkinson’s personal life.
Mr Rogers said: “Early last week, Mr Wilkinson went to a friend’s house in Harrogate and found his friend dead. It was Mr Wilkinson that actually found his body.
“That has hit Mr Wilkinson very hard indeed.”
Mr Rogers said the defendant, who was living with a friend in Avenue Close, had begun drinking rather than turning back to drugs and had kept his two drug rehabilitation appointments the previous week.
Referring to the burglary, Mr Rogers added: “This offence was committed whilst he was in drink. He thought the store was open, no doubt because of the drink.
“When he got up to the doors, they didn’t open and not thinking straight, he thinks, ‘I will just open them’. They were not locked, and they aren’t damaged.”
Wilkinson was handed an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months for the burglary and a four-week sentence suspended for 12 months for handling stolen goods in a separate incident in June. He was told to continue his drug rehabilitation order and stay out of trouble, or face being sent back to prison.