MAGISTRATES have fined a Bideford shoplifter after he failed to attend a court hearing as he was caring for his ill grandmother.
Laurence East, 27, of Lane Field Road, Bideford, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft when he appeared at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
He also pleaded guilty to failing to surrender to the court without reasonable excuse after missing a previous hearing in February.
Although on that occasion the court received notice of his non-attendance, magistrates decided the explanation provided was not a reasonable excuse and agreed to press charges.
East was initially summoned to court in relation to two thefts which took place in Bideford on January 15.
The court heard how East had stolen a £4 bottle of wine from Coop, and a £25 pair of jeans from the Original Factory Shop within hours of each other, on both occasions entering the stores with no money.
Lyndsey Baker, for the prosecution, told the court that when police confronted East about the thefts, he was also found with a pair of wire cutters - although he denied these were used in either of the incidents.
East, who had no legal representation, told the court the crimes had been committed in a moment of desperation.
He said: “I had a drug problem and I moved from Hastings to Devon to get away from it all. I stayed clean for quite a long time until December or January when I fell into the wrong crowd again.
“I got back into the same role again, but now I have found myself a job and got clean again.”
Magistrates fined East a total of £150 for the two thefts and for failing to surrender to the court. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £20, costs of £60 and compensation of £29.