Thief ‘failed to think’ when stealing phone

A man who pretended to be the owner of a lost mobile phone put himself at risk of having a suspended prison sentence activated, a court heard.

Gareth Gipp, 31, of Beaumont Close, Bures St Mary, had claimed the phone from staff at Tesco after he overheard them talking about how it had been handed in by a customer.

Ipswich Crown Court heard on Friday how, when CCTV recordings from the store were reviewed months later, Gipp was identified by a police officer as being the bogus claimant.

Prosecutor Robert Sadd said the incident took place in Tesco in Springfield Road in Sudbury on the evening of March 17.

After Gipp was recognised by police, officers went to his home address and recovered the phone. Gipp pleaded guilty to an offence of theft.

Mr Sadd said the offence put Gipp in breach of a suspended 12-month prison sentence imposed in March 2011 for three offences of battery at a pub in Sible Hedingham.

In mitigation, Paul Roach said the theft of the phone had been “opportunistic”.

Mr Roach said: “This was not something that was planned – it was instantaneous.”

Afterwards, the phone, which was locked so could not be used, languished in a drawer at Gipp’s home for five months until police called to speak to him about it.

At the time of the theft, Gipp, who is unemployed, had been short of money and he had failed to think about what he was doing, said Mr Roach.

Gipp, who suffers from a condition called unstable mood syndrome, was very sorry for falsely claiming the phone as his own, said Mr Roach.

Sentencing him, Judge John Holt told Gipp that because he had successfully completed part of his original sentence, including an aggression replacement course, it would not be activated.

Judge Holt made Gipp the subject of a 12-month community order with a condition that he must complete 200 hours of unpaid community work.