Bubble bursts for Champagne thief

Man steals five bottles of ‘high value’ Champagne.

A thief with a taste for the finer things in life stole five bottles of Champagne to pay for Christmas presents for his daughter, a court heard.

Jason Lee James Richards, of Cridlake, in Axminster, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months, after admitting to stealing numerous bottles of ‘high value’ Champagne last Christmas.

The 31-year-old appeared in custody, via video link, at Central Devon Magistrates’ Court, last Thursday.

The court heard that, on December 3, Richards stole two bottles of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, valued at �61.98, and a further bottle, worth �150.99, on December 12, from the Co-operative in Axminster.

On December 28, he stole a further bottle of Champagne, valued at �160, from the Co-operative in Seaton.

Suspicions were raised after he stole a final bottle worth �139.96, on January 12, from the Co-operative in Seaton, and he was arrested following a review of CCTV footage.

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Mark Haddow, prosecuting, said the items were of “considerable value” and there was no doubt that these items were sold off to give away as Christmas presents.

Rachel Bentley, defending, said: “The items were taken solely to provide money to provide Christmas presents for his young daughter.”

She told the court that he did not wish to use this as an excuse for his actions and that it was not a drug-related offence.

She said, at the time of the offences, Richards was struggling with the terms of his licence agreement, but, up until that point, had been doing well to comply.

After committing the offences, he asked to be recalled to prison.

Miss Bentley added: “The irony of this situation was that he was actually doing OK on his licence and there had been a period of time where he was not offending.”

She also said that Richards had been abstaining from drug use.

There was no order for costs due to his limited means and he was returned to custody to complete the terms of his recall to prison.