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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

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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