Prolific thief breached Wrexham town centre order in 'desperation for food'

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Court Reporter

A Prolific shoplifter dubbed a nuisance to Wrexham town centre has been back in court after breaching a court order and stealing yet again.

James Alexander Hourigan, 33, appeared before town magistrates from custody and admitted breaching a criminal behavioural order banning him from the town centre by being in Island Green shopping Centre on September 11 – as well as stealing air freshener worth £10 from the Wilkinson store while there.

James Neary, prosecuting yesterday, told the bench they would have no doubt after hearing of the latest offence and Hourigan’s record that the the order was imposed because Hourigan was a “nuisance in Wrexham town centre”.

Hourigan, of Alwen in Plas Madoc, Acrefair, was a prolific shoplifter and the order was there because he stole from shops and became abusive when challenged, Mr Neary added.

On September 11 Hourigan was caught on CCTV taking the air freshener from the shop. Staff later saw the footage and reported it to the police.

Hourigan was arrested two days later and told officers that because he was so hungry he felt as if he had no choice other than to go into the town for food.

He could not remember the theft, but denied it was to pay for alcohol or dugs, saying that he was living a “very hectic lifestyle” and his memory was poor.

But he accepted that he committed the theft and apologised for it after seeing CCTV footage, magistrates heard.

Mr Neary told the bench that the order was imposed in June and Hourigan was fined on August 11 for breaching it.

He was back before magistrates in Mold on August 21 where he was fined again after being found in the town centre, telling police that the had not received a copy of the map outlining where he could not go.

Mr Neary was in court on that occasion and made sure that Hourigan was given a map, but he was back in court for another breach the next day and was jailed for 28 days.

Ceri Lewis, defending, said Hourigan accepted he breached the order, but had done out of “sheer desperation to get some food after being released from custody ”.  

At the time of the latest breach Hourigan had just been released from prison and his benefits had been stopped, she added.

He was on his way to CAIS, which is just within the town centre boundary, to get some food.

Hourigan now had his own accommodation but had no electricity because he had no money, but his first benefit payment would be on Tuesday.

He had no “recollection of the theft whatsoever” and could not offer an explanation why it happened, Miss Lewis said, but he did not believe that he sold the air fresheners because had he done so, he would have money for food and electricity.

Probation officer Andrew Connah told magistrates Hourigan was released from prison last week and failed to attend an induction.

Hourigan’s offender manager had concerns that he might be in a “revolving door effect” of going in and out of custody, Mr Connah added.

But magistrates also heard that Hourigan used mamba and amphetamine and was not suitable for further programme requirements due to his high level of drug use.

Hourigan had previously turned up at the appointments while under the influence, the court heard.

Miss Lewis echoed Mr Connah’s suggestion of a suspended sentence.

Magistrates’ chairman Brian Marford imposed two three-month sentences, suspended for six months, to run concurrently.

Hourigan must also pay a £115 surcharge, prosecution costs of £85 and £10 in compensation to Wilkinson.

Mr Marford told him: “Basically you need to keep straight, you need to stop.

“It’s down to you now. Everybody’s trying to help you – you need to help yourself.”  

Email:

it@nwn.co.uk

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