Poll: Thief who pinched food from Ipswich superstore (and who has a staggering 44 convictions for shoplifting) is ‘punished’ with court fine... of just �5

A THIEF with 44 convictions for shoplifting has been fined �5 by an exasperated judge who branded him a “pest and a thorough nuisance”.

Mr Justice Saunders ordered a dock officer at Ipswich Crown Court to see how much money 46-year-old Paul Ely had on him and on finding he had �20 he fined him �5 and ordered him to pay a mandatory �15 victim surcharge.

The judge told Ely, who has a total of 114 previous convictions, that he could normally have been expected to be sent to prison.

However in view of the progress he had been making since he was given a suspended prison sentence last year he said he felt able to deal with the case by imposing a financial penalty and extending the existing suspended sentence order by three months.

After hearing from prosecutor Andrew Jackson the number of previous offences committed by Ely, Mr Justice Saunders said: “He gets drunk and commits offences.

“He is a pest who goes shoplifting and is a thorough nuisance.”

Ely, of Vernon Street, Ipswich, admitted shoplifting and being in breach of a suspended prison sentence.

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The court heard that a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and an unpaid work requirement had been imposed by a court on Ely in February 2011 after he threatened to kill a man with a kitchen knife on a stairwell at a block of flats in Vernon Street. The man had run off and Ely had chased after him.

Outlining the facts of the shoplifting offence, Mr Jackson said Ely had gone to Sainsbury’s in Upper Brook Street, Ipswich at around 2.30pm on May 17 and was seen to pick up items food and leave the store after only paying for a loaf of bread.

A member of staff recognised Ely and a street ranger found him asleep in a nearby alleyway.

Roger Thomson, for Ely, said his client’s suspended sentence order was due to end in two months and he had completed the unpaid work requirement.

He said Ely’s wife had died in September last year and his daughter had been adopted and although he had tried to cut down on the amount he had been drinking because he knew it got him into trouble he had relapsed.

Ely appeared in The Star in 2005 when he was asked in a vox pop whether or not he had ever been a rebel. He replied: “I’ve been a rebel, just a few times! I’ve been in and out of prison.”

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