Shoplifter jailed after adding thefts to list of more than 200 offences

Lee McLaughlin, 28, of Defoe Road, Ipswich, was was sentenced to 26 weeks custody for shoplifting.

Lee McLaughlin, 28, of Defoe Road, Ipswich, was was sentenced to 26 weeks custody for shoplifting. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

A prolific shoplifter is beginning another spell behind bars for his latest spate of thefts – despite an appeal for clemency from his solicitor.

Lee McLaughlin was sentenced to 26 weeks’ custody for seven counts of theft from shops – including 10 bottles of vodka on two occasions from Aldi, in Hines Road.

The 37-year-old, of Defoe Road, Ipswich, admitted all charges and asked for six further thefts from Tesco Express, in Foxhall Road, to be taken into consideration by magistrates on Monday.

McLaughlin had already recorded 47 convictions for 209 offences, including 159 thefts, when he appeared in custody following his arrest on Saturday.

He tested positive for cocaine and opiates when arrested for the most recent offences, which began when McLaughlin was under post-sentence supervision following release from prison.

Solicitor Dino Barricella said it would come as no surprise that McLaughlin’s crimes had been committed to feed a drug problem.

“By their nature, these were poorly planned and unsophisticated,” he added.

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“The modus operandi is always the same. He goes into a store – sometimes choosing to conceal the items – and walks out in the hope of getting away with it.”

Mr Barricella accepted the crimes were aggravated by a list of previous convictions and number of recent offences, but asked magistrates to impose a high level community order or suspend an immediate jail term.

“His list of previous convictions is like a revolving door of custody,” he added.

“Not since 2013 has he been offered a community sentence.

“Perhaps now is the time to look at alternatives to custody.

“He’s getting too long in the tooth for carrying on this lifestyle. We have to try to stop this for everyone’s sake.

“I suggest you test his motivation by putting the ball in his court.”

The probation service said McLaughlin had previously failed to engage with a multi-agency approach to address his offending, but that he appeared to now be more willing to conform.

Magistrates felt McLaughlin had used up his chances at reform – handing him 26 weeks’ custody to run concurrently for each crime.

“It’s your responsibility to cooperate with probation services during post-sentence supervision,” they told him.

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