STEALING £24 worth of lager from a shop has cost a Darlington man £299 and landed him with 100 hours unpaid work.

Christopher Michael Dear admitted stealing a crate of Carling, damaging a £30 box of wine and a cash machine and assaulting a shopkeeper when he appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court.

Prosecutor Lorraine Cooper said the 20-year-old of Tyne Crescent entered the Premier Store on Bates Avenue in Darlington shortly before 8.30pm on Sunday, May 4 with the express purpose of stealing alcohol.

She said he was spotted picking up a crate by the shopkeeper, so went to the till as if to pay before attempting to run out of the store with the lager.

The shopkeeper managed to grab the crate however which then fell into a rack of wine.

A box of six bottles of Jacob’s Creek wine worth £30 was destroyed along with a card payment machine which was drenched in alcohol.

The shopkeeper chased Dear out of the shop, but the 20-year-old punched the man in the face causing a cut to his lower lip.

Dear then got into a waiting Ford Focus which police managed to trace to a nearby address where they found him.

Dear told officers he had been drinking for more than two days and wanted more alcohol.

Steph Thompson representing Dear said he has written a letter of apology to the shopkeeper.

Dear was ordered to pay £154 compensation, £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

He was also given a 12 month community order with supervision and 100 hours unpaid work.