"I think I would be alright if I had somewhere to live -” homeless man’s plea to Mansfield magistrates

A homeless man who stole to fund his drug habit told Mansfield magistrates: "I think I would be alright if I had somewhere to live."

Friday, 30th April 2021, 5:40 pm

Lee Walters stole chocolate and meat worth £170 from Iceland on March 18 and £90 of razors from Tesco on March 24 said prosecutor Sanjay Jerath.

After his arrest on April 8, he immediately admitted stealing the items and told officers he had been homeless since his release from prison and his methadone script hasn't been sorted.

Mr Jerath said he has 69 previous convictions for 185 offences – 105 of which are for dishonesty – and the thefts put him in breach of a conditional discharge and his post-sentence supervision.

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Mansfield Magistrates' Court.

Donna Pursglove, mitigating, said Walters deserved credit for his early guilty plea.

"We can't get around the fact he does have a poor record of similar offences," she said. "When he was released he was struggling because he was homeless, had no benefits or a methadone programme."

She said Walters is claiming Universal Credit, is seeing a drugs worker and is on a new methadone programme – but ‘the difficulty is he is still homeless’.

"He is a life-long person going through the criminal justice system and it's a Catch-22 situation all the time."

"In the past, he would say ‘send me to prison’ because it would give him some respite from being on the street," Ms Pursglove said.

But she told the court that he is now ‘sick to death of going to prison’ as the system is not good at the moment and people are still locked up for many hours a day.

“He says ‘I am really trying to stay out of trouble’. He does need some extra support," she said.

Walters told magistrates: "I think I would be alright if I had somewhere to live."

Walters 39, care of Westfield Lane, Mansfield, admitted the thefts when he appeared in Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing until June 1 for a probation report to be prepared and warned him to keep out of trouble until then.

In the meantime, he is banned from entering Iceland and Tesco.

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