'Persistent' shoplifter Richard Hatton jailed for three years for £1,000-a-time thefts
A "PERSISTENT and professional" shoplifter, who stole thousands of pounds of goods from DIY stores and supermarkets, has been jailed for three years.
Derby Crown Court was told that Richard Hatton stole to fund a gambling addiction he'd had since childhood.
The 36-year-old took high-value items, including shower units and power tools, from DIY shops across Derby and Derbyshire, the court heard.
Hatton, of Carson Road, Chaddesden, pleaded guilty in August to six offences but the judge at the time deferred sentencing for six months.
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But, within two weeks of that court appearance, Hatton had walked into a B&Q store in Derby, picked up copper piping worth £1,000, put it in a trolley and walked out of the shop undetected.
Grace Hale, prosecuting, said that two weeks later Hatton stole £1,000 of power tools from the Homebase store in Ashbourne.
Then, on October 9, he attempted to steal £1,900 of spirits from a Sainsbury's store in Derby but was stopped by a security guard as he tried to leave and fled the scene.
Miss Hale said that Hatton had a "lengthy list" of previous convictions dating back to 1993.
She said: "He is a persistent and professional shoplifter who, over the years, continued to steal from shops to fund a gambling addiction.
"His convictions range from community orders to several stretches in prison that range from two months to 20 months."
Hatton pleaded guilty to two offences of theft and one of attempted theft for the latest three offences.
The six counts of theft to which he pleaded guilty in August dated back to August, September, November and December 2011 and included thefts from DIY shops and supermarkets for goods totalling more than £7,000.
Jailing Hatton for three years, Judge Andrew Hamilton said: "You are a professional thief who steals from shops by simply walking out expecting not to pay, often escaping by using holes in fences that you have cut.
"Well, it is about time the court treated you like a professional and gave you a professional sentence.
"You have broken every chance you have been given and this has got to stop.
"Since you seem to think you have this gambling addiction and that you need help, well, you can help yourself by not gambling."
Sally Cairns, in mitigation for Hatton, said that her client had written to the judge expressing his "deep regret" at his offending.
Miss Cairns said: "He knows he has an appalling record of many incidents of theft from shops.
"His offending has been to fund a gambling habit.
"He has been addicted to gambling since childhood.
"He started gambling as a child with his parents. He has tried to seek help for his problem but without success."