Shoplifter with horrendous record spared jail

Burnley Magistrates' Court.

Burnley Magistrates' Court.

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A 6ft 7ins shoplifter has been spared jail after his latest thieving trips in Pendle.

Aaron Bridge (28) said to have an "horrendous" record with about 100 previous offences, helped himself to meat worth £120 from Sainsbury's and £21 from the Co-op Late Shop, on two consecutive days, a court was told. The £120 haul was recovered.

Bridge is not long out of prison and, his solicitor told the hearing: "He has been managing, for the last four weeks, to lead a law-abiding life."

Bridge, an ex-heroin addict, who now has problems in his leg veins due to his former "heavy" habit, admitted theft on June 22nd and 23rd. At Burnley Magistrates' Court, the defendant, of Pine Street, Nelson, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and must pay £21 compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

Deputy District Judge Huw Edwards told him: "Given your record, you could normally expect to be looking at a custodial sentence. You have served a custodial sentence, which was effectively imposed in May."

The hearing was told on May 26th, the defendant had been given a suspended prison sentence with a rehabilitation activity requirement, for shoplifting. He flouted it, the term was later activated and he was locked up. Bridge was said to always co-operate when stopped by store staff.

Daniel Frazer (defending) said Bridge, who claims employment support allowance, was still on licence and would then be on post- sentence supervision for the next 11 months. The solicitor continued: "A month after his release, he is not committing offences. He is back with his partner. He is not shoplifting and has managed to stay clear of illegal substances."

In March 2013, Bridge appeared before the same court after targeting Colne Cricket Club, where he tried to open a safe after breaking in at night.

The hearing had been told how Bridge, then 25, pinched petty cash and alcohol to the tune of £182. He was caught after leaving his fingerprints, but made no comment when arrested.

He had spent Christmas in jail, but was said to have kicked drugs and turned his back on crime - and it was all thanks to a blind man. Bridge, who once lived in a skip, was said to then spend his nights as the man's carer and had turned his life around. His then- solicitor Trevor Grice had told the court: "A blind man has made him see the light."

Bridge, then of Chapelhouse Road, Nelson, had admitted burglary at the club, between November 19th and 20th, 2012. The defendant had been given a 10 week curfew, between 7pm and 7am and was ordered to pay £180 compensation and a £60 victim surcharge.