Ex-drug addict stole electricity

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

An ex-drug addict told to stop stealing electricity told officers: “I’ve done it again, lads,” after abstracting more than £8,000 worth.

John Neal Halstead (46) had been warned to stop taking power when he by-passed his meter and helped himself to energy worth almost £7,000, but had carried on.

Burnley Magistrates’ Court was told how Halstead, who is on universal credit, was now paying the money back and had no electricity in his home as he had been cut off. He had considered going to live with his mother, but had decided to stay put.

The defendant, who says he has “grown up a little bit” had had a drug habit for 20 years, but gave up two years ago.

Halstead, of Devonshire Road, Burnley, admitted abstracting electricity to the value of £8,173.52, between January 1, 2014 and January 10, 2017. He was given a community order with 100 hours unpaid work and was ordered to pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Mrs Alex Mann, prosecuting, said: “The defendant has been very co-operative with the police.” She told the court a Revenue Officer went to the defendant’s home in May 2015, because there had not been a top-up since January 2014.

The energy company found he was abstracting electricity and had taken £6,841 worth. The meter was replaced and he was not prosecuted. An official went round again in January after it came to their attention he had not topped up since last March. The defendant’s electricity has now been disconnected.

A probation officer who interviewed Halstead, who was not represented by a solicitor, said he had not worked for 20 years, mainly because of drugs, but he was now stable.

She continued: “One of the reasons he abstracted the electricity was because money became very tight. He got into rent arrears. He says he knew exactly what he was doing, but he just couldn’t afford electricity at the time.”

District Judge Alexandra Simmonds told the defendant: “It was a lot of money you managed to avoid paying by by-passing the electricity meter. It’s to your credit that you have stayed off the drugs for so long now.”