An autistic crack cocaine addict stole chocolates and sweets worth more than £200 in one afternoon, a court heard.
Burnley magistrates were told how Joshua Whalley struck three times after targeting Kitchen’s Petrol Station in the town and was identified on CCTV. The 20-year-old had been in the grip of crack cocaine since last December and bought drugs as soon as he got his benefits cash.
He told police he took the confectionery to sell it. The defendant said: "I have no money and I take drugs.”
Mrs Tracy Yates, prosecuting, told the hearing that at 5.55pm, a man was seen in the shop with 100 bars of chocolate stacked in his hands, but he ran out when an assistant shouted to him.
At 6.45pm, the same man took 45 bars of chocolate. He returned at 8pm and was seen with a full basket of Haribo sweets. He was approached and dropped it. Whalley was identified from CCTV footage.
Mrs Yates said the defendant, who apologised to police, had previous convictions for theft.
Mr Mark Williams, defending, said Whalley was a “ vulnerable young man,”who has been diagnosed with autism, depression and anxiety.
The defendant had been left at his home alone, with what he admitted was a drug problem, which appeared to be escalating, as his partner was in custody.
The solicitor said since the offences, Whalley, who is on benefits, had gone to live with his father in Waterfoot.
Mr Williams continued:” He is at a much more stable address where he is safer and less vulnerable, certainly in terms of financial pressures. He fully admitted the offences during the course of the interview."
Probation officer Mr Elliott Smith, who interviewed the defendant, said he showed some intelligence and understanding about the offences and was able to say sorry.
The defendant, who had been diagnosed with an emotional personality disorder, was on medication for anxiety and depression. Mr Smith continued :” Since December, crack cocaine has taken a grip on this defendant.
"Alcohol has been a very significant part of his life.”
The officer told the court the defendant received employment support allowance ( ESA) and personal independence payment (PIP). He went on:” As soon as he gets his money, he has been using drugs and obviously we need to address that.”
Whalley, formerly of Florence Street, Burnley, admitted three counts of theft from a shop on July 28th.
He was given a 12- month community order, with a six-month drugs programme and a 10- day rehabilitation activity requirement. The defendant was ordered to pay £200 compensation.