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Westcliff charity shop thief jailed for three years
8:46pm Wednesday 30th May 2012 in Echo News
A TEENAGE boy who burgled charity shops has been locked up for three years.
He stole £500 worth of donations, including a guitar and flute, and caused £450 damage.
Smith also pleaded guilty to breaking into Hunters Solicitors, in the same road, last November, where he took £137 cash.
The defendent also raided a bungalow and garden shed in Sussex, in March 2011.
An emotional Smith sat with his head in his hands yesterday at Basildon Crown Court, when he was sentenced to three years behind bars.
His barrister Mike Warren thought prison could be a positive experience for the young man. He said: “He does not seek to make any excuses for what he has done.
“He knows he has an opportunity to use the education and training facilities available to him in prison to make something more of himself.
“He appears to lack self belief and has spent 35 separate placements, in either foster or care homes, with no real contact with his parents since the age of four.”
Smith, who has 17 previous convictions relating to 26 offences, will serve his sentence at a young offenders’ institution.
He had an accomplice for the charity shop raids.
Connor Byrne, 19, of York Road, Southend, was sentenced to 238 days in a young offenders’ institution, in March.
The pair were caught in the act, through CCTV footage from the British Heart Foundation shop.
Debbie Mann, manager at the Sue Ryder shop, was delighted to see him get his just desserts.
She said: “Normally you see these guys just getting a slap on the wrist for their actions. Giving him a prison sentence shows the court has taken this seriously.
“What he and his friend did was take money away from the charity, because we rely on donations. It is a bit of a kick in the teeth for the people who kindly donate their items to us.
“However, the crooks don’t seem to care. Hopefully it won’t happen again.”