Career criminal in court for 181st offence

First published in News

A JUDGE spoke of his disbelief as he sentenced a career criminal for his 181st offence - the fifth time he has broke into the same shop after hours.

Stuart Collins has repeatedly raided Debenhams in Middlesbrough town centre at night - forcing open fire doors and stealing aftershave and perfume.

Judge Howard Crowson was looking through a copy of the 34-year-old's list of previous convictions when he remarked on Collins's crooked career.

Holding up the 38-page document, the Teesside Crown Court judge said: "We are going to have to start weighing this instead of reading it."

Collins, of Cranfield Avenue, Middlesbrough, was jailed for 22 months after he admitted burglary at the department store at 4am on April 24 this year.

His lawyer Robert Mochrie told Judge Crowson that the drug addict was desperate to kick his habit and live a more constructive life.

The judge replied: "If he had done that at page ten instead of page 38, you might have had a chance . . . the antecedents are appalling."

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs told the court that Collins - wearing distinctive clothes - was caught on closed circuit television camera inside the shop.

Police were aware of his previous break-ins there, and went to his home, saw him in the same gear, and found £2,356 of scents in his bathroom.

Mr Mochrie said: "Mr Collins will be the first to concede that he is somewhat hamstrung by his past. It is a very bad record, indeed.

"His pre-sentence report sets out quite clearly how Mr Collins lives, if one could call it that. It is more of a desperate day-to-day struggle.

"He has been given a chance time and time again, but he has failed . . . after a period of sobriety, he is now motivated and wants to change."

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