Honiton man begs court to jail him

A FORMER Honiton man, who was caught shoplifting, has been jailed at his own request in a bid to kick his drug habit.

A FORMER Honiton man, who was caught shoplifting, has been jailed at his own request in a bid to kick his drug habit.

Richard James Barnes, 38, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison for stealing perfume sets from Boots at the value of �118.

Barnes, a prolific offender, pleaded guilty at Central Devon Magistrates' Court, but refused to comply with a supervision order.

Prosecuting, Mark Haddow said Barnes was caught leaving the store in Exeter with the goods concealed in a carrier bag on December 27 of last year.

He said Barnes had a substantial record and stole to feed his drug habit.

He said: "His Christmas treat must have been that he was not kept in custody that evening."

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He added Barnes had appeared at Bristol Magistrates' court in May 2008, who had tried to deal with Barnes by ways other than a custodial sentence.

In mitigation, Peter Woodley said Barnes had a drug habit which had got out of hand. He said: "He's asked me to ask you to send him to prison, because he knows that this is the only way he can get drug rehabilitation."

Chairman of the bench Penny Wiles said: "Although this offence in itself is not the most serious of offences that we deal with in this court, it's made much more serious by your quite appalling record."

Barnes, formerly of Streamers Meadows, gave his address in court as Clifton Road, Exeter.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald before he was sent down, he said: "I have spent most of my life fighting a losing drug battle.

"The only way to fight it is to go to prison. In rehabilitation you can walk out."

Barnes said his drug addiction started 11 years ago, but soared while trying to cope with the death of his two young children, killed in a car collision by a drink-driver.

He said: "I'd been using amphetamines, but then started on heroin and crack cocaine. I self medicate because it's the only way I can stop the memories of sad things and the shameful things I've done. I can't handle the guilt and the drugs suppress it.

"I'm the person who I want to be in jail. I'm happy, but as soon as I walk out, that's it. I'm institutionalised - I've spent at least 17 years inside in the last 20 years."

Barnes and his former partner had two more children, whom he has not seen for over five years. He says he is responsible for the break-up because his drug addiction escalated and does not feel he is ready to be in his children's lives at this time.

He also admits to stealing from his own mother in the past, but says he has been trying to make amends by paying her back.

"When you lie in agony on the floor, sweating, aching, and you see a �10 note lying there, you're going to take it to feel better," he said. "I'm now paying back what I've taken over the years, it helps me feel a little bit better."

He says drug agencies can help some people, but have proved unsuccessful for him.

He said: "I'm the only one who can change this.