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Serial thief is caught out by on-the-ball district judge

Defendant's story did not stand up to scrutiny

John Garvey


01635 886628

A SERIAL shoplifter, who apparently tried to cover up his defiance of an unpaid work order, was caught out by a district judge.

Thomas Alexander Etherton had been given the community order, with unpaid work requirement, for three offences of theft.

But when he appeared at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, June 1, for a new offence, his past came back to haunt him.

The 24-year-old’s solicitor, Yakoumi Sotiris, said his client had assured him the community order was “going well.”

But district judge Davinder Lachhar insisted on checking, and summoned a probation officer to court.

From then on, things did not go well at all for 24-year-old Mr Etherton, of Sandleford Lane, Greenham.

The probation officer said that, far from complying, jobless Mr Etherton had been issued with a “breach warning letter for refusing to work,” having completed just 19 hours out of 21, over a period of months.

Mr Etherton meanwhile admitted the new offence of stealing alcohol worth £11.38 from the Regatta Service Station on the Nightingales estate in Newbury on March 3.

Mr Sotiris said: “He used to have a problem with alcohol and drugs. He tells me that a lot of the absences from unpaid work were due to a chest infection, although he cannot produce medical certificates.”

Mr Sotiris said his client continued to insist the order had been going well and that an up-to-date probation report would reflect this.

District judge Lachhar declined to accept this at face value, however.

Instead, she said she would adjourn sentencing to a later date so that the probation service could provide the latest information on Mr Etherton’s compliance or otherwise.

He was meanwhile released on bail.

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Article comments

  • Blizzard

    06/06/2017 - 12:12

    I think it's up to the prosecution to provide this material as part of their case. However most prosecution briefs will get this sort of crap case handed to them minutes before going into court. Very annoying if you were the plod that prepared the file, spent 6 hours in custody, and got your day off cancelled to attend court. Most breifs will skim the file at best. Both briefs from each side will chat about the case if in Crown court and agree to leave bits out to maintain a smooth running case. I've seen chunks of damning evidence left out because the brief didn't want to argue case law, had another case to go to, and or wanted to keep a lunch appointment.


  • anorak

    06/06/2017 - 08:08

    So the judges don't do these checks as a matter of course? Unbelievable!


  • Louise


    06/06/2017 - 07:07

    Surely the Courts Service should have this info to hand when an offender is up before the beak?