A SHOPLIFTER who assaulted a security guard, who went on to have a heart attack, has been told he may not go to prison.

Connor Kirkley was being detained after being caught stealing from stores in the Outlet Village when he tried to break free.

The 22-year-old is then said to have elbowed the victim hard in the ribs and bitten his finger as he tried to escape the clutches of the law.

After prosecutors said they could not link the blow, which caused bruising to his chest, and the cardiac arrest they dropped a charge of grievous bodily harm.

But even though he has pleaded guilty to the lesser actual bodily harm and theft a judge adjourned the case to see if he could get help, rather than jail.

Kirley had gone to the shopping mall on Friday June 2 and stole clothing from Hugo Boss, the day after he had been seen stealing from the Ralph Lauren store.

As he was making off he was detained by a security guard shortly before 3pm and was being taken back awaiting the police when he tried to get away.

In the tussle it is alleged the victim was bitten to the finger and elbowed hard to the ribs, leaving him with bruising, and he fell to the ground hitting his head.

He was then taken to hospital after suffering a heart attack following the scuffle near the Rodbourne Road entrance, by Carluccios restaurant.

Kirkley, who pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, was initially charged with grievous bodily harm, which he denied.

However when medics said the victim had a pre-existing heart condition and they could not directly link what happened to the assault the charge was reduced to actual bodily harm.

The thief continued to deny it claiming that he was tripped to the floor and jumped on by people and did throw a punch or elbow or bite anyone.

The case listed for trial earlier this year but before a jury could be sworn in Kirkley, of Eveleigh Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, changed his plea to guilty.

When he came back to court for sentence Nicholas Clough, defending, asked for the case to be adjourned so his client could be considered for drug rehabilitation.

"This young man's problems are rooted in mental health issues which have resulted in drug mistreatment," he said.

He said that to be considered for a drug rehabilitation requirement he needed to be assessed for suitability by the providers.

Judge Robert Pawson adjourned the case to Friday December 1 and released Kirkley on conditional bail.

He said he was doing it so he can be assessed for suitability for the order 'with a view to working towards residential rehabilitation'.

But he told him "I will consider a presentence report and the drug rehabilitation requirement report on December 1 when you are going to be here for sentence.

"But I am not tying my hands as to what may or may not happen on that day. Do no take this as an indication that you are going to receive a drug rehabilitation requirement."