Shoplifter warned by judge after brawl on court steps

Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

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A SERIAL shoplifter who was caught up in a fight on the city’s crown court steps has been warned by a judge who spared him jail.

Thief Shaun O’Sullivan was late for his sentencing after going for a cigarette outside Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday morning - only for a fight to break out.

The 34-year-old wasn’t involved in the ‘kerfuffle’ but his pal got attacked – leaving O’Sullivan unable to get back into court on time.

When he finally did get in the dock late in the afternoon, the court heard he was charged with robbery at Superdrug on November 8 last year.

But that charge was dropped as he admitted assaulting a shop working and stealing £350 worth of perfume from the store at around 2pm.

The shop worker had been left ‘scared and jumpy’ after the altercation, prosecutor David Jenkins said.

Two panic alarms and 16 cameras had since been fitted in the shop, the court heard.

O’Sullivan also admitted theft of £390 worth meat from Marks and Spencer in High Street, Petersfield, on May 3 this year.

He admitted theft at Boots in Winchester after ‘secreting fragrances’ – stealing £158 worth. They were returned.

O’Sullivan had also admitted two drunk and disorderly charges, both in London Road, Southampton, on August 10 and 11.

The defendant, who has 37 convictions for 73 offences, admitted breaching a suspended sentence for two thefts and a battery.

He previously stole Lacoste fragrance at Superdrug in Waterlooville and meat and electrical items from a store in Park Parade.

O’Sullivan was handed two months in jail for the assault, and four months for each of the three assaults.

All sentences were ordered to run consecutively, with judge David Melville QC suspending the 14-month term for two years.

O’Sullivan must complete a one-year drug rehabilitation requirement and 15 days of rehabilitation activities.

He was fined £50 for breaching the suspended sentence and he was given no separate penalty for the drunk and disorderly offence.

The judge said O’Sullivan had ‘an astonishing string of convictions’ with the thefts done to feed a drug addiction.

At the end of the hearing the judge warned him and said: ‘Getting into a fight outside court, Mr O’Sullivan, is something I suggest you distance yourself. I know it wasn’t you involved but you were present.’

O’Sullivan shot back: ‘I was only there having a cigarette.’

Experts had recommended O’Sullivan, now of Alma Road, Southampton, complete a residential drug rehabilitation but a probation officer said he was unable to recommend this to the judge.