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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Thief who hit store owner is locked up for eight months

A THIEF who targeted a shop pleaded guilty to the crime – despite not being able to remember committing it because he was drunk on whisky.

Rhys Eaton stole cigarettes then punched the owner of Greengate Street News in Greengate Street, Barrow, as he wrestled with him on the floor.

Yesterday, the 20-year-old, formerly of Vulcan Road, Barrow, was sentenced to eight months in youth custody – despite saying he was “gutted” by his actions.

Preston Crown Court heard shop owner Brian Simpson had been getting some fresh air outside his business on April 15 while a 14-year-old boy was behind the counter.

Eaton walked past and appeared to be drunk, said Mr Robert Smith, prosecuting.

The defendant turned back and walked into the shop.

He said: “I’ll have 10 of them”, pointing to a cigarette display, the court heard.

Eaton took six or seven cigarette packs and turned to leave. Mr Smith told the court: “Mr Simpson had made to stop him from leaving. The defendant barged into him.

“The two ended up wrestling on the floor. The defendant punched him to the head. He was still holding the stolen cigarettes.”

Eaton pushed his way through and Mr Simpson tried to restrain him. The owner was punched in the mouth, the court was told.

Two other men intervened and Mr Simpson, feeling intimidated, let him go.

In police interview Eaton said he had no memory of the incident.

He spoke of having had an argument with his girlfriend and drunk a bottle of whisky, but could not recall anything further. He did not dispute being responsible.

Since the offences, Eaton has been recalled on licence from a two-year sentence for conspiracy to supply drugs.

Mr Tom Lord, defending, said Eaton – who had pleaded guilty to burglary and common assault at an earlier hearing – still had another five months to serve on recall.

He said of the latest offences: “He has utilised force to try and get away from a rightly determined complainant. It was an unsophisticated offence. He does regret his actions. He has shown genuine remorse and describes himself as being gutted by what he did.”

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