Court praises thief for his honesty

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A THIEF won praise from a court for ‘‘thinking better’’ of his crime and for the honest way he had conducted himself with the police.

Ian Blackshaw pleaded guilty at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court last Thursday to stealing £20 in cash from a teenager at One Arch in Bower Street, Harrogate, on November 10.

Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said 39-year-old Blackshaw, who had been to prison in the past, had been charged because of what he had told police as there had been no statement of complaint by the person whose £20 he had taken.

Mr Ovenden said Blackshaw, of King’s Road, Harrogate, had been approached by a group of young people who had asked him to buy alcohol for them. He told police £20 had been given to him to make the purchase.

He had gone off on his bike, initially intent on making the purchase, but then thought better of it and decided he would keep the money. So he had not returned to the scene with either drink or cash.

The court - which heard Blackshaw had originally been spoken to on suspicion of robbery - was told he had a criminal record which went back some years and which had included a jail term imposed by York Crown Court in March last year.

But since his release his only appearance had been in September for behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress. Blackshaw had kicked a class A drug habit he had funded by shoplifting, and as a result his offending had slowed down.

And, even though there had been no claim made for compensation, he was willing to pay back the £20.

Presiding magistrate Graham Saunders told Blackshaw that as an adult he well knew he should not be taking money from under-age people to go and buy alcohol on their behalf.

‘‘But the fact was that you thought better of it and you are to be commended for that and also for the honesty you displayed in the police station by explaining right from the start exactly what had happened, what you had been asked to do and why you changed your mind.

‘‘Therefore, exceptionally on this occasion, we are going to deal with this by way of a conditional discharge, which is quite unusual for an offence of this kind.’’

Ordering the discharge to run for 12 months and imposing costs of £85 Mr Saunders said there would be no compensation order. ‘‘It has not been requested, perhaps for the reason that under-age people do not want to come forward to explain what they were doing,’’ he said.