Thief claiming disability allowance 'made off' with stolen shopping

The defendant was fined 200 and was ordered to pay 30 compensation.
The defendant was fined 200 and was ordered to pay 30 compensation.

A court has heard how a thief who was claiming employment and support allowance and who claimed to not be fit to do community service legged it with a £30 grocery haul from a shop.

David Anthony Forrester (33) had been handed a basket full of goods from the alleged shoplifter who had shouted to him outside the store in Burnley, and he then ran off with it, the town's magistrates were told.

Drug-addict Forrester, who was in breach of four conditional discharges for similar offences at the time, is on employment and support allowance, given to people who can not work because of disability or sickness. The hearing was told he was recovering from fractured vertebrae he suffered during an epileptic fit.

His solicitor told the bench he was not fit for unpaid work, prompting the bench chairwoman to say there seemed to be a "bit of a conflict" in the case. She said: "He has a bad back which makes him unfit for unpaid work but he did run off with a basket of goods. The two don't go together."

Mr Mark Williams, defending, said Forrester had had to wear a support jacket, but his condition was improving and he didn't have to use that now. The defendant, who was on the heroin substitute methadone, couldn't do unpaid work because of a combination of things, mainly epilepsy and drugs use.

Mr Williams continued: "I fully accept it doesn't prevent him from being involved in this offence and making off with the goods."

Forrester told the magistrates he was "very sorry " for the offence. He told the bench: "You think you're invincible but you're not." The chairwoman replied: "Oh no, you're not invincible."

She told him the four conditional discharges were still hanging over him and warned:" Its quite likely you could be sent into custody if you come to court again."

The defendant, of Plumbe Street in Burnley, admitted theft from the Spar store on Todmorden Road in the town on July 13th. He was fined £200 and was ordered to pay £30 compensation.