THE owner of an antiques shop pushed to the brink of closure by a robbery has branded the career criminal who stole from her business as ‘sick’.
Andrew Bishop has been jailed for three years for stealing more than £20,000 of gold jewellery from Past and Present in Village Road, Alverstoke, Gosport on May 17, stealing a spade from a nearby property to use in the break-in, and stealing from a caravan parked outside a home in Fareham Road, Gosport.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Bishop, 41, had more than 90 previous offences on his record, many of them for shoplifting, and had only been released from jail shortly before these latest offences.
Julie Edwards, the owner of Past and Present said: ‘He has virtually destroyed my business – he took all my most valuable stock.
‘I’m glad he’s got three years, I wish it could have been longer.
‘They should throw away the key.
‘I’ve worked hard all my life and these drug addicts are sucking the life out of us. It’s appalling, he’s just a recidivist.’
The £600 cash Bishop had on him at the time of his arrest was awarded to Past and Present as compensation.
The jewellery has not been recovered and Bishop refused to say when questioned about it in a police interview what had happened to it.
The shop’s stock was not covered by insurance.
Ms Edwards praised a neighbour who tried to stop Bishop when he heard the break-in.
‘I’m very grateful to him,’ she said. ‘If he hadn’t given chase we wouldn’t have had the good description which enabled the police to pick him up.’
Items taken from the caravan included war medals, a gold wedding ring, a silver pocket watch, gold coins, a Royal Albert tea set and a Royal Doulton bowl.
The court heard how many of the items held great sentimental value and had been passed down to the caravan’s owners.
Sarah Jones, defending, explained how Bishop, of Milton Road in Portsmouth, had been an alcoholic before becoming a drug addict.
She said: ‘Since he was 19, he’s been addicted to one thing or another.
‘There is no excuse for that, his family have been loving and supporting.
‘He’s very close to being hopeless in a very real sense.’
Judge Sarah Munro QC, urged Bishop to use the time in jail to get clean after hearing how he wanted to change his ways, and added: ‘I’m not optimistic, but it’s up to you.’