No New Year Eve’s celebrations for champagne thief

A CHAMPAGNE thief had porridge for New Year’s Eve when magistrates cut his celebrations short.

Phillip James Nicholas will also have a £2,428 bill to pay when he regains his freedom.

York magistrates heard he wanted to share two bottles of Marks and Spencer bubbly worth £72 with his partner.

Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting said a member of the public spotted him putting them into a bag on December 30 in the store’s Parliament Street branch and walking out without paying.

His actions were also caught on CCTV.

He was stopped outside the store and the champagne returned to the store.

Police held him in custody overnight and arranged for him to attend York Magistrates’ New Year Eve court virtually from Fulford Road Police Station.

Nicholas, 38, of Sirocco Court, off Fossway, York, pleaded guilty to champagne theft.

He was on a suspended six-week prison sentence at the time passed two months by the same magistrates court earlier for stealing 10 bottles of detergent, failure to attend court and three charges of possessing drugs for his own use, and he was on post sentence supervision by the probation services following an earlier prison sentence.

Magistrates ordered him to serve the six weeks, plus eight weeks for the champagne theft.

They also reminded him he owed the court £2,300 in unpaid fines, compensation and statutory surcharges imposed for earlier offences.

Magistrates added a £128 statutory surcharge for the latest offence to his bill and made an order enabling the court to enforce payment of all the money if he doesn’t start paying on his release from prison.

Nicholas lives on benefits.

Defence solicitor John Howard said Nicholas’ partner had been having problems because she wasn’t getting methadone. So Nicholas had decided to cheer her up with some champagne.

He himself had a history of drug abuse, though he had told his solicitor he is currently not taking drugs.

York Press | News