Shoplifter ‘in debt to London drug dealers’ jailed for three months

James Phillips was jailed for 12 weeks for a string of shop thefts, assault and making off without paying for a taxi Picture...

James Phillips was jailed for 12 weeks for a string of shop thefts, assault and making off without paying for a taxi Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A thief who dodged a cab fare home from a police station has been jailed for three months.

James Phillips told magistrates he was stealing from shops in order to repay a London drug gang.

The 44-year-old, of London Road, Ipswich, appeared at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court to admit eight counts of shop theft, assaulting a security guard and making off without paying for a taxi journey.

Prosecutor Colette Harper said Phillips stole £64.98 of items from Boots in Lowestoft on June 24 – three days before stealing £100 of frozen meat from the town’s Iceland store, where he pushed past a security guard, who fell and injured his hand against a door.

On July 25, Phillips stole clothing from Matalan, in Ranelagh Road, Ipswich, before being caught and arrested for stealing food from Tesco the following day.

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A month later, on August 24, he was stopped in an alleyway near Sailmakers shopping centre and found with a bag of six stolen T-shirts, worth £89.94, from Blue Inc.

On October 14, Phillips made off without paying £17.12 for a taxi ride back to Ipswich from Martlesham Heath police investigation centre.

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He then stole £49 of washing up liquid from Savers in Upper Brook Street on October 26, £40.98 of gift items from B&M in Carr Street on November 11, a £35 Lynx gift set from the same store two days later, and numerous joints of meats from Tesco in Norwich Road on November 15.

The court heard Phillips had a criminal record of 18 offences and was jailed for 31 months in 2017 for drug charges.

Phillips told magistrates he had been using cocaine and heroin, and had been stealing to pay off a debt to London drug dealers.

The probation service said Phillips had been offered, but had neglected to attend appointments with substance misuse service Turning Point.

Phillips said he left Lowestoft after his flat was broken into, and had been living on the streets of Ipswich until moving in with a friend in London Road.

He added: “I don’t want to be in this situation. I had to pay people off, or I didn’t know what would happen.”

Magistrates said Phillips was guilty of a “spree of offending behaviour”, jailing him for a total of 12 weeks and ordering he pay £50 in compensation for the assault and the full cost of all unrecovered stolen items.

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