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Shop raider from Northwood told to fix alcohol addiction

57-year-old James Hastings turned to crime while under the influence of drink, a court heard.

A Northwood man who carried out smash and grab raids was in the grip of an alcohol addiction, a court heard.

James Hastings, 57, of Carew Road, was spared a prision sentence at St Albans Crown Court last Wednesday (October 21) so that he can tackle his drink problem.

The court heard that it was alcohol that lay behind two offences he committed earlier this year.

On June 18 an intoxicated Hastings walked into a Debenhams store in Harrow and stole £440 worth of Fred Perry polo shirts. He was quickly apprehended as he made his way out of the store, which he was already banned from.

Granted bail for that offence, the defendant soon found himself in trouble again.

The court was told on the night of July 27 this year Hastings, who had been drinking heavily, went to the Harlequinn shopping centre in Watford and found it locked. With no one around, he picked up a fire extinguisher and smashed the window of Beaverbrooks jeweller shop and snatched five expensive watches from a display. He ran off but, once more, was quickly caught with the watches worth £26,100 on him.

Davina Mootien, prosecuting, said Hastings had damaged a sixth watch beyond repair in carrying out the smash and grab. She said the damage to the glass window of the shop came to £3,328.

Sean Smith, defending, said Hastings had struggled with alcohol addiction for a number of years.

Judge Andrew Bright QC sentenced him to two years imprisonment suspended for two years with a six month alcohol treatment requirement.

He said: “It seems to me, addressing your drink problem is pretty fundamental to getting you back on the straight and narrow. You need to knuckle down and take advantage of the chance I am giving you.”

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