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

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.

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.

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.