Prolific shoplifter jailed and banned from entering city shops

Mick Ferris

A 32-year-old Rochford man has been jailed for a total of 32 weeks and banned from certain stores in Southend and Westcliff after stealing more than £900 of food.

Altogether, James Butcher, of Southend Road, admitted committing 30 thefts from shops across the city since last August, ten of them while on court bail.

He was initially arrested on January 16, 2023 and charged with 20 thefts from shops and one count of assault by beating.

He was bailed by Southend magistrates on January 18 but failed to attend his next hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Southend Local Policing Team officers arrested him again on February 27.

By this time, he had committed another ten shop thefts, Southend magistrates were told on March 1.

PC Alex Plakhtienko, of the Business Crime Team, said after the case that Butcher had repeatedly targeted a number of shops in Southend and Westcliff, intimidating staff with his behaviour.

“He is a persistent offender and, despite being arrested and bailed by magistrates in January, the very next day Butcher stole 20 meat steaks.

“Staff members in the shops he stole from were frightened by his behaviour and some were verbally threatened. One employee was pushed aside when he tried to stop Butcher leave a store with goods he hadn’t paid for.

“I hope the fact that, as well as jailing him, magistrates saw fit to issue Butcher with a five-year criminal behaviour order which forbids him from entering eight shops in the area, will allow staff in those stores to feel safe when he is released from prison.”

Butcher, who admitted all charges, was sentenced to a total of 32 weeks imprisonment because, he was told, the offences were so serious only a custodial sentence could be justified.

He was also issued with a five-year criminal behaviour order banning him from entering eight shops in Southend and Westcliff: the BP Petrol Station in West Street, Farm Foods stores on Greyhound Retail Park and in Eastern Avenue, Iceland and Lidl stores on Greyhound Retail Park and Waitrose in Fossett’s Way, Eastern Avenue, all in Southend, plus the Co-Op and Sainsbury’s stores in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff.

Butcher was also ordered to pay £919.85 in compensation and a £128 victim surcharge.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk