Thief ‘blackmailed’ to steal from supermarket shoppers

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A “PROFESSIONAL” thief claimed he was being blackmailed to prey on women, a court was told.

Carl Saxon (37), a convicted sex offender, said his accomplice threatened to tell neighbours about his record if he did not go along with the plan to steal purses.

Burnley magistrates heard Saxon targeted lone or vulnerable shoppers, one of them a pensioner, in supermarkets in Burnley and Nelson after being driven to the area from Manchester.

He distracted them by asking them about products and then stole their money.

One of Saxon’s victims, a woman of 66, had £115 in her purse, which he took in Morrisons, Nelson. He also struck at Asda, Burnley, on the same day.

Saxon, of Clough Top Road, Manchester, had 53 previous convictions for theft. He admitted two counts of theft and was bailed until October 11th, for reports. District Judge Peter Ward warned him he would go to jail.

Judge Ward said Saxon’s activities were organised and professional and he had preyed on shoppers. “He has deliberately come over to the Burnley area to steal in this way. It is, in my view, a serious matter for which the starting point is a custodial sentence,” said Judge Ward, adding Saxon had a significant record.

Mr Huw Edwards (prosecuting) said a witness saw a man lean round the pensioner and reach into her trolley to get her purse. At Asda, Saxon asked his victim advice about oven cleaner, stole her purse and left. Neither woman realised what had happened until they got to the till to pay.

Mr Mark Williams (defending) said Saxon did not accept his conduct was organised as such. Somebody known to him brought him to this area after threatening to expose his 2007 sex offence record, saying: “If you don’t come with me, I am going to tell the neighbours what’s gone on.”

Mr Williams said Saxon had a good record for complying with court orders and was not currently subject to any. His accomplice, according to Saxon, was in custody over other allegations.

Mr Williams added Saxon had made full and frank admissions about the offences after being arrested and should be given credit for doing so.