‘Seismic change in life led to man going off rails’

A MAN whose life had undergone seismic change found himself in court for the second time in little more than a month after staying out of trouble for five years.

Nicholas Hart, 37, appeared before Harrogate magistrates last Thursday to plead guilty to stealing lager valued at £6.85 from the Co-op store in King Edward’s Drive, Bilton, on October 16.

And the court heard that on December 20 he had been fined for stealing from Harrogate’s Asda store, though according to prosecutor Steven Ovenden he had not then been identified as the culprit in the lager theft.

Staff at the Co-op recognised him from CCTV footage but could not put a name to the face and it had not been until some time later that police arrested him.

Mr Ovenden said the two shop thefts apart, Hart, who had a total of 19 previous court appearances, had not been in trouble since 2007.

In mitigation Andrew Tinning said it was unfortunate Hart had to make two appearances because the two matters had not been linked up.

His latest offence had been the culmination of a bad time for Hart. He had lost his bricklaying job in October when work dried up and that coincided with the anniversary of the death of his former partner which had led to him losing his council accommodation and no longer having his children living with him.

‘‘There has been seismic change in his life in the last 12 months and he is desperately trying to get back on his feet,’’ said Mr Tinning.

Hart had had a job lined up before Christmas but it had fallen through due to publicity over his previous theft. And he was still striving to find work.

Hart was conditionally discharged for six months and ordered to pay costs of £50 and compensation of £6.85.