A SERIAL shoplifter who has led “a life of drug-addled crime” has been jailed after threatening to stab frightened shop workers with a dirty needle.
Drug addict Daniel Heaps (34), of Clara Place, Rotherham, was locked up for 37 months at Sheffield Crown Court today (Wednesday).
Heaps had gone to a branch of Aldi in Rotherham on May 9 and had hidden two bottles of gin in his bag, Sue Evans, prosecuting, told the court.
He had been spotted by a shop worker who asked him if he was going to pay and, when he refused, had taken hold of his bag and basket.
Heaps managed to take them back but, with the help of other staff members, the woman took it back from him, said Ms Evans.
“He told staff he had a needle and pulled it out of his pocket,” Ms Evans said.
Heaps made off with the gin and the woman who had confronted him later noticed a needle mark which had not been there before the incident, however, she did not know how it got there.
Heaps returned the next day and was spotted by staff taking another bottle of gin from the top shelf.
He had been tackled by staff but when he mentioned he had a needle in his pocket staff stepped back and he made off again, Ms Evans said.
Heaps turned up at a branch of McColls 40 minutes later and hid two jars of coffee in his bag.
He was challenged by a shop worker who asked him if he was going to pay and he told her to move, Ms Evans said.
“When she challenged him further, he replied, ‘I’ll stab you with a dirty needle’,” Ms Evans said.
“When asked to put the items back, he began to open his jacket and repeated the threats.
“The woman moved back because she was frightened and the defendant ran off.”
Heaps was arrested after being identified on security footage and was found to have a needle and 146mg of cocaine on him.
The woman who worked in McColls said in a victim impact statement that she was a mother of three young children and the incident had made her think about what would happen if she was to fall ill from such an attack.
Heaps pleaded guilty at Sheffield Crown Court on June 9 to robbery, two counts of theft and possession of a class A drug.
He has 36 previous convictions for 72 offences including theft, battery, criminal damage and drugs offences.
Mitigating, Mr Richard Adams said Heaps’s mother had taken a photograph of him when he had been arrested and it had been “immediately apparent that [he] is completely consumed by an addiction to class A drugs”.
He said Heaps was “genuinely remorseful” and had not displayed a propensity for violence in the past.
Sentencing Heaps to 37 months in prison, Recorder Adrian Langdale said the thief had led a life of “drug-addled crime”.
Referring to Heaps’ victims, he said: “These people, and everyone else in society, are entitled to be protected from that kind of behaviour.
“You have to be aware that by producing a needle, or threatening with a needle, you stepped over that precipice of serious crime and into a whole new world.”
“[Your victim] and others were just going about their ordinary business and they are entitled not to be abused or threatened by you.”