Lidl staff ‘humiliated me’, says Portsmouth cancer survivor accused of shoplifting twice

A PHYSICALLY impaired cancer survivor revealed he has been left ‘humiliated’ and has been turned into a recluse after being banned from Lidl for thieving – but says it would have been impossible for him to be the perpetrator.

Former throat cancer sufferer Paul Bailey has opened up on his pain after being shamed at the North End store on two occasions after being a victim in a case of mistaken identity.

The frail 50-year-old, who has a tracheostomy tube in his neck so he can breathe and talk, was circled by staff before being accused of shoplifting.

He was then frogmarched out of the store by security last month after a worker insisted she chased him down the road during a recent theft.

Paul Bailey who was accused of shoplifting from Lidl in London Road, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (091019-30)

The incident has left Paul feeling hounded by the supermarket giant after he was also targeted in August. On that occasion he was made to empty his bag in front of shoppers despite having already paid for items.

Staff eventually backed off after a receipt was shown to them proving he had paid for the goods.

Paul, who has anxiety and depression, revealed he could not possibly be the thief as he struggles to walk and ties his dog up outside when he does his weekly shop at the store.

Paul Bailey and his dog Bailey. Mr Bailey was wrongfully accused of shoplifting from this Lidl in London Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (091019-27)

The Stamshaw resident, who says he has never been in trouble in his life, said of the incident: ‘I was approached by security and a manager who told me I was barred for shoplifting after they chased me down the road on a previous occasion.

‘I told them they were making a big mistake and that it couldn’t have been me because I can’t run and always have my dog with me. But the woman was adamant it was me and I was escorted off the premises.

‘It was very embarrassing – everyone was staring at me. I feel self-conscious about my appearance with my tracheostomy tube and this just made things worse.

‘It was so belittling to be treated this way. I’ve never done anything wrong in my life, I don’t have a criminal record and I don’t need to steal things. I have family and friends who would help me if I needed food.’

Paul has been in remission from cancer for five years after becoming ill in 2013. He has lost four stone since then and he is unable to eat foods he could before, while he admits he is still coming to terms with having to wear his breathing-support tube.

He said: ‘I can’t speak or breathe without the tube. I can’t run or go swimming like I used to and am no longer able to work as a groundworker.

‘I can’t eat spicy foods now as my taste buds have been damaged from the operation and treatment. It takes me an hour to eat a steak.

‘My 72-year-old mum has to make my bed for me as I am unable to do it by myself. I’m grateful to be in remission but the cancer has had a big impact on my life, especially psychologically.

‘I see a psychologist and go to Macmillan Cancer Support group sessions for others who have had or are going through cancer.’

After being interviewed by The News outside Lidl, Paul attempted to enter the store before being turned away by a security guard, who said: ‘I asked (Paul) to leave a few weeks ago and have been told he can’t come back in the store until the investigation is complete.’

A friend of Paul’s walked past Lidl during The News’ interview. Dan Scrine, owner of Joker Tattoo in Kingston Crescent, said: ‘I’ve known Paul for four years and there’s no chance he can run. The whole thing is ridiculous, a total joke. They should apologise to him.’

The News spoke to the store’s duty manager, who insisted they had no comment to make.

A spokeswoman for Lidl said: ‘We can confirm that our teams are investigating an incident that occurred at our North End store, and are in direct contact with the customer.

‘We will stay in close communication with Mr Bailey and ensure that he is kept fully updated on all developments regarding the investigation.’