A solicitor has claimed a drug addict, who he was representing in court, exchanged stolen meat for heroin.
Michael King, formerly of Staplecross Court in Bewbush, appeared at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (October 23) for stealing a large quantity of meat from the Co-Op in Maidenbower Square.
Kelly Rees, acting for the Crown told the court King, 31, went into the shop with another man on September 1 and filled a Sainsbury’s bag with meat, leaving the shelf empty.
He then went back about an hour later and took more meat. Staff said the other man was not seen taking the meat from the shop.
Geoff White, representing King, explained his client was a self-confessed heroin addict and had stolen the meat to fund his addiction.
He said: “The issue is his drug addiction.”
Mr White added King traded the meat for heroin and requested that he attend a drug rehabilitation order (DRO).
The probation service told magistrates that King had not been attending his current DRO treatment sessions and, as a result, they were unwilling to work with him further as part of a sentence for the new offences.
However Mr White told the bench: “He needs treatment. The items stolen were of quite a low value and he got £10 of heroin for each bag.
“You cannot possibly understand the power this drug is having on him.
“He needs to be in a residential treatment centre, but those facilities don’t exist.
“He is the victim of an illness. The frustrating thing is the people who are supplying him are just ignored.”
Due to King’s financial circumstances magistrates concluded they had little choice but to give him a custodial sentence.
Chairman of the bench said to King: “It’s a sad case. It’s particularly sad that in committing this offence you are stealing what we would suggest would be of significant value to the shop and it would be to any of us buying that meat. Then you sold it for £10. It’s not right.”
The court took into account King’s guilty plea and reduced his prison sentence from three to two months accordingly.
After the court case, Sussex Police said officers were aware of a nationwide drugs trade with meat, but did not have any evidence of it happening in Crawley.