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Christmas jail term for thief

PUBLISHED: 12:01 31 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 July 2010

AN alcoholic shoplifter spent Christmas in prison after he admitted stealing three perfume sets worth £77 from Boots Chemist in Gorleston to fund his addiction.

AN alcoholic shoplifter spent Christmas in prison after he admitted stealing three perfume sets worth £77 from Boots Chemist in Gorleston to fund his addiction.

Great Yarmouth Magistrates heard that Clayton Harman's long-term alcoholism resulted from the death of his father in a Gorleston flat fire in February 2006 and the death of his sister in 1999.

Described as a prolific and persistent offender, Harman, 24, was jailed for eight weeks on Tuesday, December 23. Magistrates were told his drink dependence was so bad he had to have alcohol before appearing in the dock to be sentenced for shoplifting.

Harman, of Oxford Avenue, Gorleston, also pleaded guilty to attempting to steal perfume from the same store.

In an effort to prevent Harman going to prison, his solicitor Arthur Balls described his client as having a “very difficult upbringing” which led to alcoholism.

Harman's father, Horace Harman, died in a fire at his sheltered housing bungalow in Rambouillet Close, Gorleston, in 2006.

And Mr Balls also said Harman's sister died in 1999 and that he had had no contact with his mother in 16 years.

He said: “If the average person had to go through one of those events you could forgive them for resorting to alcohol.

The court was told the Harman needed a drink before the hearing as he needed to stay stable and that when he recently visited the probation service he was under the influence of drink while a pre-sentence report was being prepared.

Sara Borthwick, prosecuting, said Harman's latest theft cases related to October 15 and 16 when he was seen on CCTV cameras and spotted by the manager of Boots placing perfume sets in a bag. He was drunk on both occasions.

He had 15 previous convictions, mostly involving shed burglaries, and is on a police list of persistent and prolific offenders.

Despite Mr Ball's plea not to jail Harman, magistrates sent him to prison for eight weeks as he had told the probation service he would find it very hard to carry out any community punishment or supervision order.

Horace Harman, a former bricklayer, was bedridden when he died at the age of 71 in the fire. After hearing that a cigarette may have started a fire in his bed an inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death.


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