Government’s bedroom tax drove Ipswich man to shoplifting in a bid to clear rent arrears, court told

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich man was driven to shoplifting out of desperation because of the Government’s bedroom tax, a court heard.

Darrell Newman, of Downside Close, pleaded guilty before South East Suffolk Magistrates Court to stealing two laptop bags from WH Smith in Westgate Street, Ipswich, on January 12.

The court heard the 31-year-old had 24 previous convictions for 48 offences, including 36 thefts, but had not offended since he was last in court on October 25, 2011, for burglary and failing to surrender to custody.

His solicitor Dino Barricella said: “He fell foul of the bedroom tax and was on benefits. Through no fault of his own his benefits were changed as part of the Government cuts.

“Because he had a two-bedroomed property he fell foul of the new bedroom tax and ran up arrears of £400. He made every effort to pay it back and now owes £140.

“He was told he would be evicted and in desperation he committed this offence. It was simply to clear rent arrears.”

Previously prosecutor Emma Howson had told the court Newman went in to WH Smith’s at just after 9.50am where he selected to laptop bags which he then dropped and ran off when the store’s alarms were activated.

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CCTV showed Newman waling towards the front doors of the store carrying the bags.

After Newman’s arrest the court heard he admitted trying to take the items and told police: “It would be quicker if I just coughed (to it).

The magistrates conceded it had been sometime since Newman’s last offence and gave him a 12-month conditional discharge.

He was also ordered to pay £15 to the victims’ fund.

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