Meat worth £78 found in hedge

A 29-YEAR-OLD Harrogate man though it was his lucky day when he found carrier bags of meat discarded under a hedge, the town’s magistrates were told on Tuesday.

For minutes earlier a man Mathew Lee Childs knew only as Chris had offered to sell him lamb joints before running off when a police patrol arrived on the scene.

Prosecutor Kathryn Reeve said it was lunchtime on May 26 when police came across Childs, of East Parade, Harrogate, and another man in Knaresborough Road. The second man had run off and police had allowed Childs to go on his way after speaking with him.

Later Childs had been seen close to a nearby nursing home carrying two bags containing five lamb joints worth £78.34 which had been stolen from Harrogate’s Asda store. Childs had told officers: ‘‘I have found it.’’

Miss Reeve said during a police interview Childs said the man he knew only as Chris had asked him if he wanted to buy meat but had run off when police came along. When he found the meat later under a hedge he believed Chris had dumped it and thought it was his lucky day.

The court heard the lamb joints had been recovered before Childs carried out his intention of eating them but they had had to be destroyed.

When Childs pleaded guilty to theft his solicitor Geoffrey Rogers said it was on the basis of stealing by finding, He denied shoplifting and had an alibi for the time the meat had been taken from Asda.

Mr Rogers said although Childs had a criminal record he had been in trouble only once – for shoplifting last year, when he had been given a conditional discharge – since a conviction for assault in 2006.

Childs was fined £55 with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. But court chairman Gordon Charlton said there would be no order for him to pay compensation.