Thief strikes again day after getting court let-off

A PERSISTENT petty criminal from Leigh, who continued to offend the day after being given one more chance, has been lambasted by a judge.

“You are a disgrace,” Judge William George told 26-year-old Shaun Cleworth.

“Shopkeepers and the public have to be protected from people like you who take any chance you get to pinch something and put it in your pocket.”

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Cleworth was given an eight-week suspended sentence for two shoplifting offences the day before he stole a car key on March 1.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said that a woman worker at the Railway Road Project in Leigh had accidentally dropped the key in the reception and it was found and stolen by Cleworth who had been there to see his support worker.

She realised it was missing and then saw her car being driven away. Fortunately about seven hours later it was recovered by police undamaged. While on bail on June 3 he stole seven bottles of whisky from the Asda store in Leigh and when approached by security staff he threatened: “I have a knife, I’m going to stab you.’

He was detained and when police arrived they found he had a small penknife in his possession.

When quizzed he said his benefits had been changed and he had stolen the whisky to sell as he needed money, said Mr Pepper.

Sentencing Cleworth for a total of 44 weeks, Judge Lewis said: “You have a bad record and over the years courts have tried and tried again to impose sentences designed not only to punish you but help to rehabilitate you and stop you committing offences.

“But time after time you have refused to co-operate or respond to such assistance.”

He said that on February 28 magistrates gave him a chance by imposing a suspended sentence for stealing electrical items to sell “down back streets, dubious public houses and car boot sales.

“What chance did you give it to work? The day after that lenient disposal you were back again committing offences.”

Judge Lewis said that Cleworth stole the car key and one of his mates then drove off in it. He was bailed by “a charitable police officer or court” and three months later was again “shoplifting commercially for profit.”

He added:, “You disregard warnings of the court and I am afraid that has to stop.”

Cleworth, of Devon Street, Leigh, pleaded guilty to two thefts, threatening behaviour and admitted being in breach of a suspended sentence.

Paul Treble, defending, said that Cleworth offended to fund his drug habit. “He realises he needs to address his behaviour or will receive longer and longer sentences.”