A BICYCLE thief who targeted Newbury town centre has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Twenty-seven-year-old Michael McNamara was caught wheeling two stolen machines, together worth hundreds of pounds, while carrying a pair of bolt cutters to sever padlock chains.
District judge Shomond Khan, sitting at Reading Magistrates’ Court, told him: “The theft of bikes is becoming a problem in many areas.
“These sorts of cases cause great inconvenience to people who use it as their main mode of transport.
“These offences, in my view, cross the custody threshold.”
Helen Gambrill, prosecuting on Thursday, September 7, said: “One victim left his bike in Newbury Market Place, secured with a coiled steel bike lock. He returned to find it had been stolen.
“Soon afterwards, around 5.35pm, witnesses saw a person who appeared to be drunk and falling over while trying to wheel away two pushbikes.”
Those witnesses alerted police, the court heard, who apprehended the drunken defendant who was still carrying the broken padlock chains as well as the bolt cutters.
Mr McNamara admitted stealing a bicycle worth £200 belonging to Kenrick Alleyne in Northbrook Street, Newbury, on September 5.
He further admitted stealing a bicycle of unknown value from Neil Taylor in the Market Place and stealing alcohol worth £69 from Tesco Express in Northbrook Street on the same date.
Finally, he admitted that this latest offending meant he was in breach of a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing controlled drugs of both Class B and Class C.
Robert Jakes, defending, said his client, who currently lives in Newcastle Road, Reading and who regularly travels to Newbury to offend, was a binge-drinking labourer who had a “major problem with alcohol”.
He suggested the offences were the result of alcohol-fuelled impulsive behaviour and added: “He has repeatedly burgled his neighbour’s house and says he is someone who is not scared to go back to prison. However, he doesn’t cope well with stress.”
But Judge Khan pointed out that Mr McNamara had gone into Newbury town centre equipped with bolt cutters and had previous convictions for bicycle thefts.
A probation officer told the court that father-of-one Mr McNamara, who has previously served time in prison for his offending, had a “significant drink problem” and was someone who “drinks to the point of blacking out”.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Khan told Mr McNamara: “You have gone equipped, so it seems to me these are premeditated, rather than spur-of-the-moment, offences, albeit disinhibited by alcohol.
“There’s a pattern of offending here. And you have a bad record.
“However, you are now employed and have worked hard to get your current employment and accommodation.”
Mr McNamara was sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to comply with the terms of an alcohol treatment requirement and 15 days rehabilitation activity.
Finally, he was required to pay £85 costs plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £115.