Heroin addict's contactless spending spree

Burnley Magistrates' Court

Burnley Magistrates' Court

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An ex-con thief stole a debit card from an unlocked car in the night then went on a contactless spending spree to the tune of £125, a court heard.

Heroin addict Stephen James Essex, who stole to fund his habit, claimed he had had enough of drugs - and a judge gave him a helping hand to get off them.

Essex had only just come out of jail and was on licence when he helped himself to the card from the vehicle's centre console. He stole five lots of goods up to the value of £30 in Burnley on February 4th.

The 34-year-old, of Whalley Street, in the town, admitted theft from a vehicle and five counts of false fraud representation, at Burnley Magistrates' Court.

He was given a nine-month community order, with a nine-month drugs rehabilitation requirement and must pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Mr David Lawson (defending) said: "The offences are not at all sophisticated and he was acting on impulse. In interview, he said he got credit on his phone and he sold items to get money for his drugs misuse. At that particular time, he wasn't receiving his prescription."

Probation officer Mr Elliot Smith told the hearing: "I think he should have a drugs rehabilitation requirement. He has not had any structured intervention since early 2016."

District Judge Alexandra Simmonds told the defendant: "Just because you're addicted to drugs doesn't mean you can go and commit offences. It seems you are motivated at the moment to do something about your drug addiction and that is to be encouraged."