A LANDSCAPER with 26 previous convictions, almost all of them for shoplifting, told police that he stole from the One Stop Shop in Pinehurst on May 23 this year because a man told him shoplifting was easy.

Marc Kevin Houston, 27, of Beech Avenue in Swindon appeared before District Judge Simon Cooper at Swindon Magistrates Court on Wednesday on a charge of stealing meat and cheese from the One Stop Shop to the value of £51, to which he pleaded guilty.

Prosecutor Pauline Lambert said a witness in the shop said she was watching the CCTV monitor because a man was behaving suspiciously. After he left the shop and got into a van it was discovered that meat and cheese products were missing.

The police were called and when they stopped the van Houston was in the passenger seat and the stolen goods were discovered.

Houston said to police that after he was told shoplifting was easy he went into the shop and stole the items.

“More likely the other way round,” the judge retorted in court while looking at the list of Houston’s previous convictions.

Tony Nowogrodski, defending, said he had known Houston for a number of years.

“He does get carried away easily and is easily swept along,” Mr Nowogrodski told the judge.

“He had had a couple of drinks, was with people more sophisticated than him and when they said do so and so he did.

He added that Houston wanted to provide for his five-year-old son and worked as a landscaper six days a week and some evenings.

The judge told Houston: “You are 27 years of age and have 19 pages of 26 previous convictions, almost all for shoplifting. You have still not got the message and I doubt if you ever will.

“This was sheer bravado, sheer nerve, just going to a shop and taking what you want. That’s why things cost more, because people like you prey on shops.”

He sentenced Houston to a 12-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work for the benefit of the community.

Houston was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a victim surcharge of £85.