A struggling alcoholic was caught stealing booze by a police officer who then helped him turn his life around.
Ricky Bennett, 48, tried to walk out of an Asda branch in Coalville, Leicestershire, with two bottles of alcohol hidden under his coat on December 30, 2022, when he had no cash to pay for his tipples.
But he was stopped and arrested by a plainclothes police officer who had watched the whole ordeal – and who Bennett would later thank for helping him kick his drinking habit, LeicestershireLive reported.
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Bennett represented himself at Leicester Magistrates' Court on Thursday (February 8) to plead guilty to the theft and said he was struggling with alcohol addiction and depression at the time of the incident.
Bennett told the court: "It's the anniversary of my mother's death over Christmas. I had no money and I felt depressed.
"It's no excuse – my head was in a bad place."
Bennett added that the officer who arrested him referred him to a Leicester-based charity, Turning Point, an organisation that helps people with substance abuse issues to make a change, and credits this with helping him to break his addiction.
He added: "I've been to Turning Point and luckily it was only mental addiction, rather than physical addiction, and I'm doing much better now.
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"I own up to what I do – that's why I've come here without a solicitor and admitted it all."
Bennett told the court that he had run out of money after he was made to pay a fine and added that he was on "the very lowest" level of Universal Credit, receiving only £289 a month.
The chair of the bench, Wendy Boneham, told Bennett: "We understand – it was a difficult time of year for everyone.
"The goods were recovered and you pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity."
Following the court appearance, magistrates agreed to give Bennett a conditional discharge.
He will also have to pay a £26 victim surcharge – however, magistrates agreed to reduce his court costs fee from £85 to just £40.
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