Heat is on after back pain sufferer’s theft

Harrogate Magistrates Court.

Harrogate Magistrates Court.

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A MAN who stole ointment to relieve back pain had used his arrest as a wake-up call and was now on prescribed medication to alleviate his condition.

Derek Smith, 37, of Kennion Road, Harrogate, appeared before the town’s magistrates last Thursday to plead guilty to stealing a £5.09 tube of Deep Heat from Superdrug on January 11.

Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said Smith had been seen in the store at about 2.30pm and CCTV footage showed he had removed the cream. He had been arrested moments later.

Mr Ovenden said when interviewed Smith told police he had wanted the preparation to ease his back pain.

The court heard Smith had a number of convictions for dishonesty and had last been convicted on December 1 when he was ordered to abide by a tagged curfew for 20 weeks for theft.

In mitigation Helen Howard said Smith had been involved in a road accident some years ago in which he had sustained back injuries which had left him in chronic pain.

At one time he had sought solace in non-prescription drugs and among his court sentences had been a community penalty with a drug rehabilitation requirement, for offending which had come about through an addiction to heroin.

Miss Howard said Smith had managed to end that addiction and was now off methadone, the heroin substitute. But he had been taking prescription drugs acquired from illegal sources.

At the time he went into Superdrug he had been in a substantial amount of pain. And while he had enough money with him to pay for the Deep Heat he had stolen it. When challenged by security staff he expressed his regret and made repeated efforts to hand over the cash. But it had been too late.

Miss Howard said Smith had now been prescribed strong painkillers by his doctor. ‘‘This has been a bit of a wake up call to him and he has gone to his GP for pain management.’’

Imposing a 12-month conditional discharge with £50 costs, court chairman Susan Robinson told Smith: ‘‘We are quite heartened to hear you have managed to get off heroin and methadone and are seeing your doctor and getting the right medication. We hope this (the theft) was just a momentary mistake.’’