Ipswich court jails homeless alcoholic and orders the penniless shoplifter to pay £172

Ipswich Magistrates Court in Elm Street.

Ipswich Magistrates Court in Elm Street. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A penniless alcoholic shoplifter with no means of income has been ordered to pay £172 by a court after being jailed for 20 weeks.

Jailed shoplifter Wojciech Kowalski

Jailed shoplifter Wojciech Kowalski - Credit: Archant

Homeless Wojciech Kowalski, whose address was given as the Resource Centre, Black Horse Lane, Ipswich, admitted three counts of theft when he appeared before the town’s magistrates.

The court heard he had 25 previous convictions and was in breach of the 22-week suspended prison sentence he was given on September 22.

Even though he is jobless and unable to claim benefits the magistrates were compelled to impose a mandatory £150 criminal courts charge on the 36-year-old.

They also ordered the Polish national to pay £22.40p compensation to McColl’s in Tower Ramparts after he stole two bottles of wine on November 8 and 11, which he consumed.

Kowalski also stole a Pizza and a bottle of wine worth £10 from Marks & Spencer in Tavern Street on November 11, but these were recovered when he was arrested outside the store.

Prior to his sentencing a probation officer was asked about Kowalski’s situation.

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She told the court: “He has no finances whatsoever so it’s a very difficult position for him.”

After invoking Kowalski’s suspended sentence, but only jailing him for a shorter period of 20 weeks, magistrates asked how the £172.40 he owed could be paid.

The court was told he did not have a fines account and the money could not be deducted from benefits.

Therefore his solicitor Shelley Drew suggested Kowalski be ordered to contact the fines office in 12 weeks following his release from prison to make arrangements for payment.

Mrs Drew has previously told the court Kowalski had also been ordered to undertake an alcohol treatment programme as part of his suspended sentence.

She said his offending had been driving by his addiction and many of his previous thefts had involved alcohol, which he had then consumed.

Magistrates heard Kowalski, who suffers from depression, effectively “fell off the wagon” when the latest offences took place.

Mrs Drew said: “He went on something of a binge-drinking session until his arrest on November 11 outside Marks & Spencer at 5.15pm.”

The criminal courts charge is applied to any offence committed on or after April 13 this year.

It is not means-tested or adjusted according to the seriousness of the crime.

In the magistrates’ court it is fixed at £150 if someone pleads guilty, but it can rise to £1,000 if they are found guilty.

Nationally more than 50 magistrates were said to have resigned in protest at levy in the weeks leading up to the end of September.