A PROLIFIC shoplifter stole £78 of handbags...just hours after being in court for theft.

John Dockings, 43, of NewRoad, Grays, left his hearing at Basildon Crown Court and walked into Debenhams in the town centre, where he took two designer bags.

He admitted one count of shoplifting when he appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court this week.

Dockings was locked up for 14 weeks.

Magistrates heard that Docking appeared at Basildon Crown Court on January 7, where he was handed a suspended sentence for theft.

He left the court and walked in to Debenhams in the Eastgate Centre, where he was spotted by security guards taking two handbags off the rail and stuffing them into a bag for life carrier bag.

The security guards chased him out the store, into the town centre.

The shop staff lost him, but he was picked up on CCTV.

The court heard that CCTV images were circulated among police officers and he was recognised by Sergeant Simon Gray, from Basildon’s Retail Crime Unit.

Officers discovered he was appearing at Basildon Crown Court on another matter on Valentines’ Day.

They waited for him there and arrested him as he left court.

In an interview, police officers showed Dockings the CCTV of him in Basildon town centre.

He said to them: “Yes that’s me, that’s my drunk face.”

In mitigation Dockings said he had bumped into an old friend after leaving the Crown Court on January 7 and they had sat outside drinking cans of lager.

He said he suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after his brother