Struggling thief stole tea bags and milk to make a cuppa for his partner's birthday

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Magistrates have shown mercy on a struggling man who stole tea bags and milk so he could make his partner a hot drink for her birthday.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on September 26 how James Moffatt, 37, of Hawthorn Road, Eckington, was caught stealing tea bags and milk from a One Stop store on West Street, in Eckington.

Prosecuting solicitor Lyn Bickley said Moffatt was caught on CCTV at the store on July 2 stealing the goods and he had also selected a bag of potatoes but footage showed him returning the potatoes.

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Moffatt made full admissions about the offence to police and told officers he had been struggling financially.

The defendant, who was also subject to a suspended prison sentence for a previous dishonesty matter, pleaded guilty to the theft which happened on July 2.

Defence solicitor Kirsty Sargent said the offence was a low-level, unsophisticated shop theft and the items had been stolen so he could make his partner a hot drink on her birthday.

She added that Moffatt is the sole carer for his partner who has a spinal injury and he had been struggling with the cost of three family birthdays in a short period.

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Ms Sargent added that the defendant later returned to the store to pay for the goods but the store said the matter was being prosecuted.

Magistrates sentenced Moffatt to a six-month conditional discharge but warned that if he commits a further offence he will be re-sentenced for the One Stop theft.

He was also ordered to pay £1.98 in compensation to One Stop.

Magistrates also imposed three extra Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days to his suspended prison sentence to mark that this order had been breached by committing the theft.