Deben­hams thief avoids jail sen­tence

Judge tells crim­i­nal to ‘knuckle down’ and that tack­ling drink prob­lem was ‘fun­da­men­tal’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Steve Bax steve.bax@trin­i­tymir­

A NORTH­WOOD man who car­ried out smash and grab raids was in the grip of an al­co­hol ad­dic­tion, a court heard.

James Hast­ings, 57, of Carew Road, was spared a pri­son sen­tence at St Al­bans Crown Court on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 21 so that he can tackle his drink prob­lem.

The court heard that it was al­co­hol that lay be­hind two of­fences he com­mit­ted ear­lier this year.

On June in­tox­i­cated 18 an Hast­ings walked into Deben­hams in Har­row and stole £440 worth of Fred Perry polo shirts. He was quickly ap­pre­hended as he made his way out of the store, which he was al­ready banned from.

Granted bail for that of­fence, the de­fen­dant soon found him­self in trou­ble again.The court was told on the night of July 27 this year, Hast­ings, who had been drink­ing heav­ily, went to the Har­le­quin shop­ping cen­tre in Wat­ford and found it locked.

With no one around, he picked up a fire ex­tin­guisher and smashed the win­dow of Beaver­brooks jew­ellery shop and snatched five ex­pen­sive watches from a dis­play. He ran off but, once more, was quickly caught with the watches worth £26,100 on him.

Dav­ina Moo­tien, prose­cut­ing, said Hast­ings had dam­aged a sixth watch be­yond re­pair in car­ry­ing out the smash and grab.

She said the dam­age to the glass win­dow of the shop came to £3,328.

Sean Smith, de­fend­ing, said Hast­ings had strug­gled with al­co­hol ad­dic­tion for a num­ber of years.

Judge An­drew Bright QC sen­tenced him to two years im­pris­on­ment, sus­pended for two years, with a six month al­co­hol treat­ment re­quire­ment.

He said: “It seems to me, ad­dress­ing your drink prob­lem is pretty fun­da­men­tal to get­ting you back on the straight and nar­row. You need to knuckle down and take ad­van­tage of the chance I am giv­ing you.”

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