A CARLISLE shoplifter stole coffee and laundry gels from two city stores after losing a wallet containing all his benefit money, a court was told.

Magistrates heard how 56-year-old Kevin Metcalfe turned to crime last month amid a run of bad luck.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly said Metcalfe was caught in the act of committing one shop theft before CCTV provided damning proof of a second on the same day.

Police learned Metcalfe had snatched 16 jars of coffee worth a total of £99.50 from an ASDA store at the St Nicholas Gate retail park, off London Road.

Officers also discovered he had stolen eight bottles of laundry gels with a total value of £47.92 from a nearby B&M Bargains outlet.

Both of his crimes were committed on Wednesday, March 13.

When he appeared at Carlisle’s Rickergate magistrates’ court today (Tuesday), Metcalfe pleaded guilty to two theft charges.

Some background to his offending was provided by defence solicitor Kate Hunter.

“He had lost his wallet containing all his benefit money,” said Ms Hunter. “His electricity was cut off and he describes sitting in the dark. Mr Metcalfe lives with his dog at home. He had absolutely no money to provide for himself and his dog.”

Metcalfe applied for food parcels but was told he had previously used up his permitted quota.

“That’s the sole factor,” said Ms Hunter of his response to turn to crime. “This was a stupid decision. There is no aggravating feature. It is not sophisticated.”

Magistrates opted to impose a year-long conditional discharge.

Lead magistrate Bruce Wilson told Metcalfe: “It means you are not going to be fined for this offence today. For 12 months this is your opportunity to keep out of trouble.

“It is a warning across your bows.”

When asked if he understood the outcome, Metcalfe, of Melbourne Road, Carlisle, replied: “I understand. I appreciate the decision.”