Teenagers knocked out shoplifter’s teeth

Wigan and Leigh court

Wigan and Leigh court

Three schoolchildren punched and kicked a shoplifter, knocking teeth out, as he tried to escape capture, a court heard.

Derek McLagan, 41, was chased by the teenagers before they “meted out their own punishment”.

Wigan magistrates were told McLagan stole four bottles of scent worth £197 from Boots in Leigh on Tuesday. The following day, he went to Superdrug in Leigh and was recognised by security officer Darren Flood.

McLagan, of Selwyn Street, Leigh, was monitored on CCTV footage and seen to put confectionary worth £39.26 into a rucksack. He was approached by Mr Flood and a police community support officer, who asked to search his bag, but he became agitated and started to walk away.

McLagan was chased by Mr Flood and staff member Keith Ward. Three children, aged around 15, offered to help and were heard shouting, “Let’s get him”.

Tess Kenyon, prosecuting, said: “It seems there was a scuffle as the schoolchildren tried to take hold of the defendant.

“Mr Flood was stood at the side of him and states he was headbutted by the defendant.”

McLagan tried to headbutt him again but missed and was swinging his arms towards the children, the court heard.

Miss Kenyon said: “It seems the schoolchildren meted out their own punishment. They were punching and kicking the defendant on the floor.”

He threatened to stab Mr Ward with a needle if he did not let him go, the court heard, and there was blood coming from McLagan’s mouth.

The police arrived and when McLagan was taken to the police station, a small amount of cannabis and a knife were found in his bag. But the court heard McLagan did not try to use the knife nor even take it from his bag, and no-one had known it was there.

Defending, Bill Pearson said: “He freely offers his apologies to all those persons involved. It is clear from the statement that what the schoolboys did was unlawful. It’s clear that they were kicking and punching him to the face to the extent that he had teeth knocked out.”

The teenagers have not been punished, but Mr Pearson said that could still be looked at. He said McLagan accepted what he had done was “completely out of order” and the “inevitability” of imprisonment.

McLagan pleaded guilty to two thefts, common assault and possessing a knife and cannabis.

Sentencing, chairman of the bench Melvyn Higson said: “Because you were carrying a knife in a bag, because you tried to escape and then you assaulted the security guard by headbutting him, we do think that these charges are past the custody threshold.”

McLagan was jailed for 26 weeks for possession of the knife, four weeks for the thefts and possession of cannabis and 12 weeks for assault, to run concurrently, and must he must pay £250 compensation to Mr Flood.