Man banned from Co-op and Halfords

A MAN arrested for serial theft as he was seeking help from the Crime Reduction Initiative (CRI) had slipped back into crime after losing his council job and seeing his partner jailed for 15 months, a court was told on Tuesday.

Harrogate magistrates heard how John Steven Bassett, who pleaded guilty to six counts of theft – including a trio from the same store committed in three days – had been subject to a conditional discharge imposed for theft and failing to answer bail when four of them occurred.

Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said 38-year-old Bassett had 33 court appearances on his record with the majority of his offences committed up to 2009. There had then been a two-year gap until the offences which brought him a 12-month discharge.

Shortly before that Bassett had walked from a Co-op store in Knaresborough pushing a trolley laden with £300.75 worth of alcohol. He abandoned it and fled when challenged.

Mr Ovenden said Bassett had been arrested for this offence the day after magistrates gave him a conditional discharge. He had been bailed for Tuesday’s court appearance but in the meantime had stolen chocolate worth £2.45 from a shop in Knaresborough Road, Harrogate, on August 19 before making visits to Halfords nearby on three successive days from August 23.

On the first occasion he had stolen two £64.99 socket sets and on the following days he had taken a £35.99 pressure washer on each occasion. Bassett’s sixth offence had been a theft from Superdrug in Harrogate on August 1 where he had targeted a £20 electric toothbrush.

In mitigation Clive Farndon said Bassett, of Fairfax Avenue, Harrogate, had a history of drug problems but it was not without significance that there had been a two-year gap in his offending behaviour.

He had worked for Harrogate Borough Council for four years but lost his job through no fault of his own.And his stable, long-term relationship had been hit when his partner was jailed for 15 months by Teesside Crown Court. The two occurrences led immediately to Bassett coming under financial pressure which resulted in him lapsing back into offending and taking drugs.

Mr Farndon said when Bassett was conditionally discharged he asked the court to make a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement. When this did not happen he got in touch with the CRI himself in the hope of being given a methadone prescription.

He had been attending a preliminary assessment last Friday (August 26) when police arrived to arrest him. But he wanted to go back after the court hearing for the assessment to be completed.

Court chairman Lindsay Addyman told Bassett that when he was given a conditional discharge it had been an attempt to give him a chance. But he had blown it by not adhering to its terms. However, he had been making efforts to help himself and perhaps needed some further support. Sentence was adjourned while the probation service compiles a report, with Bassett bailed in the meantime on condition he stays out of Knaresborough’s Co-op and Harrogate’s Halfords and keeps his CRI appointment.