Washing powder thief urged to make clean start or face jail

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A thief who stole three boxes of washing powder to sell on because he claimed he had benefit problems has been warned he could face custody if he re-offends.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard this month how Darren Hitchman, 44, of Danby Avenue, Old Whittington, Chesterfield, stole the washing powder from a One Stop store on February 8.

He also asked for two other theft offences from a Spar store from February 5 and 24 to be taken into consideration.

Prosecuting solicitor Gillian Foxcroft said: “He was involved in three shop thefts in quick succession taking washing powder each time and CCTV revealed his involvement.

“As much as £21 worth of washing powder was stolen from One Stop and £36 pounds worth of washing powder from a Spar store, on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield.

“He made admissions and said he had taken the items to sell because he had had no dole for 14 days.”

The court also heard how Hitchman had already been given a conditional discharge for a previous offence and he also appeared in court in March after a theft at a Lidl store but his latest February offences pre-dated that offence.

Defence solicitor Alex Chapman said: “The February offences were fully admitted to police. He took items from a shelf and hid them under a coat and it’s the sort of offending where the defendant knew he was going to be caught.

“There was no sophistication at all.

“These offences also pre-date his last offences when he received a fine. They are old offences and should have been dealt with in March.

“His benefits had stopped and he was struggling to pay bills. He was trying to fund bills and not stealing to buy drugs or alcohol. He was in a state of desperation.”

Magistrates sentenced Hitchman on April 8 to a 12 month conditional discharge but warned him that if he commits another offence he will be re-sentenced and will almost certainly face custody.