‘Professional shoplifter’ threatened Co-op staff with used needle

Leamington Justice Centre, where Warwick Crown Court sits
Leamington Justice Centre, where Warwick Crown Court sits

A shoplifting heroin addict escaped with five joints of lamb and a loaf of bread after threatening a Co-op manager with a dirty needle.

Lee Pheasey, 29 formerly of Priory Road, Warwick, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to the robbery in Leamington’s Old Town and to possessing an article with a blade or point in public.

During the case at Warwick Crown Court, prosecutor Andrew Baker said that David Richards, the assistant manager of the Co-op in Clemens Street, was on duty on September 27 when Pheasey came into the store.

Mr Richards watched Pheasey for a while before approaching him. The thief - who was helping himself to joints of lamb - then responded by threatening him with the words “I’ve got a dirty needle here”.

Pheasey took out a syringe and pointed it at the assistant manager who backed away, fearing he may be stabbed.

As a result Pheasey was able to get past him and left with the stolen items.

After being traced a short time later, Pheasey - who had a puncture mark in his skin from an injection - admitted shoplifting but denied making any threat with the needle.

Pheasey, who was described by Mr Baker as “a professional shoplifter” has previous convictions and at the time of the theft was on licence from a 52-month sentence for smuggling heroin and cocaine into prison.

He has been recalled to continue that sentence.

Defending his actions, Martin Groves told the court that Pheasey had only been out of prison for two weeks was living at a hostel in Leamington.

He said he had started hearing voices in his head again, and was desperate after being rejected for benefits.

He said: “It was a shoplifting which went wrong.

“He had gone in with a full syringe which he had planned to use afterwards. He produced it in a desperate attempt to get away when he was challenged. He’s never done anything like this before.”

Jailing Pheasey, Recorder Adam Feest told him: “You went into a shop, no doubt intending to steal from it; and when challenged, you produced a needle and threatened, in effect, to stab him with the needle, which was dirty.

“That must be a very frightening thing for anyone working in a shop to be confronted with.

“I sympathise with what has been described as your desperate position at the time; but this is so serious it can only be dealt with by a sentence of immediate custody.”