A man who stole to eat after his benefits were stopped has been jailed.
Ian Mulholland admitted stealing three packets of casserole steak from Sainsbury’s when he appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court .
The court heard he stole the meat to eat after changes to his benefits left him hungry.
The 43-year-old drug user, who faces amputation of his legs, apparently spent nine weeks without money when attempting to change benefits to reflect his disability.
He missed out on payments after failing to attend appointments.
Ben Pegman, mitigating, said Mulholland was unable to afford food and, because of his ulcerated legs, was unable to get to the local foodbank.
He added that the recent offending was as a result of his situation.
“He is free of heroin and in receipt of methadone but this is not offending to top that up but offending to eat.”
Mulholland, of Borough Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to stealing the food, worth £12.60, and was sentenced to six weeks in prison.
A suspended prison sentence imposed for a previous offence was also activated, meaning he must spend 14 weeks behind bars.
Major Bradshaw is now calling for the abolishment of benefit sanctioning which sees claimants’ benefits reduced or stopped entirely if they are suspected of non-compliance.
Predicting a Dickensian future, he said:
“Sanctioning is not only forcing people into greater poverty, it is forcing people to take desperate action such as stealing food.
“Around 70 per cent of the 50 to 58 people we help at our Friday night emergency foodbank have been sanctioned – many of them over 50 years of age and all of them desperate.”
Source – Northern Echo, 22 Oct 2014
Pubs in the North are closing at the rate of five a week prompting concerns over the long term future of the region’s watering holes.
New figures today show a rise in weekly closures has accelerated from three per week in December last year to five this summer.
Campaigners are now calling for an urgent change in the law to make it harder for pubs to be demolished or converted to supermarkets and convenience stores.
Pubs in the region which have been become supermarkets in recent years include The Lodge, in Durham City, which is now a Sainsburys and The Prospect in Sunderland which became a Lidl.
Supermarkets tend to favour taking over drinking venues as no planning permission is needed to convert them into supermarkets.
Camra – the Campaign for Real Ale – has now launched a campaign calling for planning applications to be required before a pub is demolished or converted to another use.
The organisation says that in most cases communities have been powerless to save their locals.
Neil Walker, from Camra, said:
“Far too many pubs are still closing and unfortunately this is true for the North East Region too. With five net pub closures a week it is clear that more needs to be done to protect pubs and encourage more people to visit their local more often.”
The situation has become so desperate that some communities have resorted to buying their local pubs to prevent them from closing or standing empty.
Villagers living in Slaley in Northumberland have been working hard to keep the much-loved Rose and Crown watering hole open after taking over the venue last August.
They set about plans to buy the pub themselves and formed Slaley Community Assets Ltd (SCAL), creating shareholders who invested around £500 each.
The group managed to collect more than £200,000 in less than three months and the cash was then used to secure a mortgage towards the final £250,000 purchase price.
David Allsop, a director of SCAL, said the pub was finally making a profit, but not after a lot of hard work in terms of maximising the use of the venue.
Mr Allsop said:
“For the first 11 months we were making a loss, we managed to break even for one month, and the past two months have seen a profit.
“The reason we have been able to do that is by using the whole building. We are taking revenue from drinks, food, as well as running a B&B and opening a self-catering holiday let.
“I would say it’s near impossible to run a pub – outside the city centre – on just drinks revenue alone, so I understand why all these places are struggling to survive.”
Landlords argue that pubs’ demise has been fuelled by supermarkets, which cut the price of lager so much it was cheaper than bottled water.
This has prompted campaigners to demand more is done to tackle cheap supermarket deals.
Despite repeated efforts, plans to introduce a minimum price of 40 pence per unit of alcohol in England and Wales have failed to turn into a reality.
A report this week showed the positive impact of pubs on rural communities.
According to the latest research, the pubs act as a local meeting point and hub for the community to meet and engage with each other.
Source – Sunday Sun, 12 Oct 2014
Beggars can’t be choosers, they simply have to go – that is the stark warning issued by Ray Mallon.
The Middlesbrough Mayor said he will “drive all the beggars out of the town” saying they are “all criminals”.
He made the statement at an Executive meeting held at Middlesbrough Town Hall yesterday.
“Every single one of them is a criminal and diversified from crime into begging because it pays well and the public are giving them money because they are intimidating,” he said.
“There are about 16 beggars in the town now.”
He recalled when he first came into office and made a similar bid to drive out beggars.
“Soon after I was elected (in 2002) there were 28 beggars in the town centre,” he said.
“People were being put off coming here to shop. By 2004 the beggars had been run out of town.”
Mr Mallon took direct action against one beggar – standing next to him and telling shoppers not to give him any money until he got fed up and moved away.
He took similar action against a beggar in York walking up to him and asking him for a pound to the man’s surprise.
“I was wearing my shorts and my cap so I didn’t look like the Middlesbrough Mayor,” he said.
“He said no it’s the other way round. I said ‘Not today, you give money to me’. He said ‘I’m not putting up with this’ and walked off and a woman shouted to me ‘It’s Robocop!’”
He said the problem has crept up again and blamed the downturn of the local economy.
“The local authority must take this subject very seriously and do everything in its power to eradicate this problem,” he said.
> Eradicating the problem apparently means eradicating the results of the problem, then ? Dont attempt to change the policies, just chase the victims of them out of town.
“From now on I don’t want the public to give them any money.”
> Or what ? Surely that choice belongs to the giver ?
He highlighted the corner of Southfield Road and Linthorpe Road outside Sainsbury’s as a new troublespot.
He has given Cllr Steve Bloundele, Executive member for commercial assets and income, the task of meeting with officers and the police to tackle the issue.
“I want this local authority with the police to be robust in this.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 Sept 2014
A man went on a shoplifting spree after a foreign trip in search of work turned sour and he returned to Sunderland empty handed and in debt.
Sunderland magistrates were told how Ernest Bulmer Jenkins headed to Sweden last year hoping to find a job, but came home after a month to find his benefits had been stopped.
Because he had not been in touch with the authorities he was left with no income for seven months and was forced to borrow money to survive.
The 30-year-old has now been handed a three-month suspended prison sentence after turning to crime to repay his debts.
Prosecutor Jeanette Smith said Jenkins, , took £100-worth perfume from Debenhams on October 21.
He was arrested and released on bail, but on December 17, Jenkins pilfered £22.95 of meat from Hendon’s HJ Foodstores. Having been bailed again, he and two others went into Sainsbury’s in Silksworth Lane, on January 6, and took £410 of drinks.
None of the items were recovered, Mrs Smith added.
Bulmer admitted three counts of theft and asked for another three – relating to the theft of £285 from Boots – to be taken into consideration.
“Around eight or nine months ago, Mr Jenkins went to Sweden to stay with family members,” his solicitor Heather Bolton said.
“He was there for four weeks, but returned to Sunderland because he was unable to find work.
“He was sanctioned for not going to the benefits agency for that four weeks, the period when he was away. For seven or so months he’s had no income whatsoever.
“He was borrowing money from friends and acquaintances. He didn’t borrow from loan sharks, but he did have some pressure on him to repay his debt.”
The bench suspended the jail sentence for 12 months, and told Jenkins to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work. and he was told to pay £322.95 in compensation, due to his limited means.
Source – Sunderland Echo 11 Feb 2014