Thief let ‘obstinate’ nature get the better of him when he failed to take Class A drug test

A man stole from a town shop and then let his “obstinate” nature get the better of him when he refused to comply with police.

Stephen Simper, 63, of Horsleys Court in Lynn, appeared at the town’s magistrates’ court on Thursday charged with two offences.

He pleaded guilty to theft from a shop and refusing to provide a sample for a Class A drug test – offences he committed on August 24.

Sainsbury's at the Hardwick industrial estate in Lynn
Sainsbury’s at the Hardwick industrial estate in Lynn

Crown prosecutor Nicola Lamb told magistrates that on that date, staff at Sainsbury’s on the Hardwick industrial estate saw Simper enter the store and pick up a bag from the checkout area.

They noted that he was acting in a “suspicious” manner, and watched as he selected £29.65 worth of washing pods and leave the store without paying.

He was stopped a short distance away by security staff, with police arresting him upon their arrival.

While in custody, Simper was asked to take a drug test – but he refused. He was subsequently charged with his second offence.

Ms Lamb said Simper’s offences were aggravated by the fact he had committed similar crimes in the past, including a failure to provide a drug sample in September of last year.

Mitigating, George Sorrell said: “In the latter part of August, he had some financial difficulties.

“He was behind with his rent, he owed some friends some money – I hasten to say not for drugs.

“On this day, he met someone who persuaded him it would be easy to steal them (the washing pods). As a shoplifter, he is not very accomplished and he has learned a lesson from this.”

On Simper refusing to carry out a drug test, the solicitor added: “He had an argument in the police station, which is not unusual. He is the type of person who can, in certain circumstances, become obstinate. That is the result of it.

“Sometimes it is necessary to overcome these personal feelings for your own good and just comply.

“At the moment, and for some time, he has been completely clear of drugs, he has been completely clear of alcohol. On the whole, he feels he has made some progress in his life to sort these matters out – and I commend him for that, as it is not an easy thing to do.

“This was more of a lapse than anything else.”

Magistrates, led by Terrance Geater, handed Simper a 12-month conditional discharge for stealing from Sainsbury’s.

He was fined £80 for failing to comply with the drug test, and will also pay £50 in legal costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

Mr Geater said: “Mr Sorrell has made it quite clear that you not abusing drugs or alcohol anymore.

“If you find yourself in a situation where the police ask you to provide a specimen, you are well advised to do that rather than end up in court again.”