A SERIAL thief who this summer spent two months in hospital with sepsis has been jailed for shoplifting.

John Young’s solicitor said it was surprising given his addiction to hard drugs that he was not being dealt with for more serious charges. Young has an unenviable record, which includes stealing a Poppy collecting box after smashing his way into a Co-op in 2015.

Appearing before Swindon Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, 39-year-old Young, formerly of Stubsmead in Eldene, admitted taking meat and cheese worth more than £160 from the Co-operative, Iceland and Aldi.

The offences began in June when he stole meat from Aldi worth £120.

A fortnight later, he took more meat from Iceland – this time valued at a more modest £46.

There then appeared a two-month gap in his offending before he stole meat and cheese from a Co-operative store on October 14.

On each occasion, Young’s shoplifting efforts were caught on CCTV and he was identified by police officers.

Two other shoplifting charges - £50 of meat from Iceland and up to £400-worth of products from Boots – were withdrawn by the Crown.

He was also due to be sentenced for a breach of a conditional discharge for theft. Young has since been recalled to prison on licence having been previously convicted of burglary

Emma Handslip, defending, said drugs lay at the heart of her client’s problems.

“He is someone who is struggling with a very, very serious addiction to class A drugs. Everything has been overwhelming for him because he’s severely unwell,” she said.

Over the past year there had twice been problems with his prescription to heroin substitute methadone upon his release from prison. Either he had not been released with the “script” or it had not been possible for him to take it. As a result, he had fallen back into addiction. He was arrested by police but had to be de-arrested when he was rushed to hospital gravely ill.

Young had spent two months in the Great Western Hospital receiving treatment initially for a blood clot but later for the life-threatening condition sepsis.

He had lost his universal credit benefit. With an arrest warrant still hanging over him, Young had put his head in the sand upon being discharged from hospital, Ms Handslip told the court. “It is somewhat surprising when someone has been in this state we are dealing with these matters and not more than that.”

But he was keen to change his life: “He knows what he needs to do to try and get himself back on his feet.”

Young was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment for the thefts and two weeks for breaching his conditional discharge. The eight weeks will run alongside his 28-day recall to prison on licence.

Upon his release from prison he will continue to be on licence – putting him at risk of going back to jail if he offends. Amanda Lee, chairman of the bench, said: “It goes without saying if you don’t comply with the terms of that supervision you will be brought back to court.”