A HABITUAL shoplifter repeatedly used the same method to escape with hundreds of pounds worth of spirits a time from supermarkets in Stratford, Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry.
Thomas Mellor embarked on his latest spate of offences to support a drug addiction which has resulted in him having to use crutches because of an infection to his leg.
The 38-year-old of Coventry Road, Coleshill, was jailed for 15 months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to 15 charges of theft and failing to surrender to bail.
Prosecutor Richard Franck said: “These are 15 offences of shoplifting committed between November 29 and April 17, and the MO in each of them is identical.
“In each case, what Mellor does is he goes into a supermarket and piles a trolley full of high-value spirits, and then puts cheap food items such as crisps on top.
“He wheels it to somewhere near the exit where he then leaves it and goes out, occasionally buying some small item before leaving.
“He gets his car and pulls up outside and goes back in and, if he hasn’t been clocked, quickly loads everything in the car and drives off.”
Mr Franck said Mellor was caught on two occasions, once when switching his target to the Blacks outdoor clothing shop in Stratford a few days before Christmas.
He was arrested, but made no comment when he was interviewed, and was granted bail with a condition of not entering any retail premises.
But he ignored that condition and struck a further ten times before being caught again at the Morrisons store in Coventry on April 3.
Mellor was again bailed, but committed two more offences, including one on the day he was due in court two weeks later, when he failed to turn up, leading to a warrant for his arrest.
By then his spate of offences had netted him alcohol and other items worth a total of £6,250.
He had struck at a number of stores, including Sainsburys in Warwick, Waitrose in Stratford and Kenilworth, and Marks & Spencer in Stratford and Warwick.
Of Mellor’s record, Judge Peter Cooke observed he had spent ‘nearly all his life offending,’ with a staggering 198 offences, mainly of shoplifting.
Martin Groves, defending, said Mellor’s offending was prompted by his drug addiction, which had recently led to his leg becoming infected through injecting drugs.
As a result, he was walking with the aid of crutches and undergoing hospital treatment to draw the infection.
Jailing Mellor for 14 months for the shoplifting offences, with a consecutive one-month term for failing to surrender to bail, Judge Cooke told him: “Eighty-seven times now you have appeared before courts and been convicted of offences, 198 in total, and about 150 of those theft-type offences.
“You have had countless opportunities when community orders or suspended sentences have been imposed.
“You are just a thorough-going pest to any store owner. The only thing that’s going to make you stop is the realisation that sentences are going to get longer and longer.”