TWO shoplifting brothers who embarked on a "mini crime spree" to fund their drug habit have narrowly avoided prison.

Adam Daniel Simons, of High Northgate, Darlington, pleaded guilty to eight shoplifting offences last month.

His older brother, Michael Nathaniel Simons, of Station Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to four shoplifting offences and a further charge of possessing 1.3 grams of heroin.

The case was adjourned for probation reports and the brothers were remanded in custody.

Today (Wednesday, July 9), the pair returned to Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court to be sentenced.

Blair Martin, prosecuting, said the thefts occurred from various supermarkets and shops in Darlington between May 20 and June 9.

Items stolen by Adam Simons, 34, included an electric toothbrush, worth £49.99, and 11 cans of deodorant, worth more than £35, from Boots.

Both brothers also stole meat and alcohol with a total value in excess of £500.

Michael Simons, 39, who has 120 dishonesty matters on his record, also pleaded guilty to a new charge of stealing a power drill from B&Q in Darlington.

Adam Simons, who has 60 dishonesty matters on his record, admitted two further shoplifting charges in March and asked for another two similar offences to be taken into consideration.

Ben Pegman, mitigating, said: “Drugs and alcohol are really what has fuelled this mini crime spree and both defendants have indicated they would like to work with agencies to address these issues.”

Magistrates sentenced both men to a total of 16 weeks in custody but suspended this for 12 months.

They were also ordered to fully compensate the victims.