Shop raider who stole £677 in booze and spat at public officer avoids jail sentence

The Co-op in Old Street, Clevedon. Picture: Google

The Co-op in Old Street, Clevedon. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

A man who raided a Clevedon shop and made off with a haul of alcohol worth hundreds of pounds has avoided jail.

Karl Hegarty was punished for burglary at North Somerset Courthouse on Monday after breaking into the Co-op, in Old Street, and stealing bottles of booze to the value of £677.97.

The 43-year-old forced his way into the store on August 28, 2018, causing a 'significant amount of damage'.

Alex Ward, prosecuting, said: "The shop manager noticed there was damage to the door frame and to the cigarette cabinet.

"CCTV was viewed by shop staff. A male was seen to enter and make his way behind the tills."

Mr Ward told the court Hegarty had caused more than £1,500 in damage to the shop, in addition to the high-value theft.

Magistrates were also told of a series crimes committed by Hegarty this summer, which involved thefts of perfume, cosmetics and alcohol in Weston.

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When apprehended on one occasion, he spat at the face of a street warden - who felt 'violated' by the ordeal.

Paul Light, defending, urged the magistrates not to send Hegarty to prison, despite his client's offences crossing the custody threshold, due to the 43-year-old's 'amazing' ongoing rehabilitation.

Mr Light said: "He was in the pits at that time.

"Everything had gone wrong, but it has amazed me how he has been able to make progress so quickly.

"He has been co-operating and learning from it. He is a completely different person to the one I first met."

Chair of the bench Jenny Simmonds told Hegarty: "Because of the value of the thefts and the damage that was caused, this passes the custody threshold.

"But, after taking into account the probation report, we will not be sending you to custody today. The sentence will be suspended.

"Should you fail to comply, that suspended sentence could be activated."

Hegarty, of Orchard Street in Weston, was handed a 24-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to non-dwelling burglary, three counts of theft and two assault by beating charges.

He was ordered to pay £2,110.52 in costs and compensation for his crimes.

Hegarty will also be subject to a curfew for 12 weeks.