A shoplifter with more than 150 previous offences for theft on his record said “I don’t blame ya” when magistrates told him they had considered locking him up.

Martin Morgan, 35, was jailed at the end of May for stealing from shops. Two months later he was back before the magistrates’ court, admitting stealing £50-worth of pet food from Poundland, a £4 bottle of wine from Iceland and meat from the Co-op in Cheney Manor.

Appearing before the court via video link from Gablecross police station, Morgan interrupted throughout the 30 minute hearing on Monday morning – including questioning the £50 value put on the stolen dog food, telling the justices’ clerk: “I don’t know the exact amount.”

And when chairman of the bench Sarah Neish told the bearded thief she had thought seriously about jailing him, he replied: “I don’t blame ya.”

Prosecutor Keith Ballinger had earlier said Morgan had gone into the Poundland and Iceland stores in Havelock Square on July 20, selected respectively dog food and sparkling wine.

On July 24 he twice stole meat from the Co-op shop in Cheney Manor. The value of the stolen meat was unknown.

Mr Ballinger said Morgan had 153 thefts on his criminal record. He was jailed for 10 weeks, having been given a suspended sentence earlier that month for similar offences.

Defending, Gordon Hotson said his client had stolen again in order to get money to feed himself. When he was released from prison he had had to start the process of applying for benefits again, leaving him with no money on which to live.

He now had somewhere to live and was no longer using drugs or heroin substitute methadone.

Morgan, of Whitworth Road, Pinehurst, pleaded guilty to four counts of theft.

Magistrates sentenced Morgan to a 12 month community order, banned him from Poundland and Iceland in the town centre and the Cheney Manor Co-op store.

Chairman of the bench Sarah Neish said: “We have heard about the offences you committed back in July and of course we have seen your dreadful record of multiple shoplifting offences before that.”

She added: “We did think very hard about whether custody was the right option for you.” Morgan replied: “I don’t blame ya.”

In addition to the shop ban, Morgan was ordered to comply with an eight week curfew and pay a £90 victim surcharge.