A HOMELESS Chester man who stole the contents of a city centre tea room tips bowl to feed his drugs habit has been jailed.

Dale Scott, 27, of Grosvenor Road, Tarvin, admitted stealing about £52 from Beatons Tearooms, Bell Tower Walk, when he appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on Friday, July 6.

Scott was also found to be in breach of a post-sentence supervision order.

Magistrates sentenced him to a total of 20 weeks in prison.

Prosecuting, Rob Youds said Scott had gone into the restaurant area on May 24 and stole the contents of the bowl containing tips before leaving the building.

Staff reviewed CCTV and realised money had been stolen and police were notified. Officers identified Scott and arrested him on June 18.

When interviewed, Scott fully admitted the offence, saying he had a heroin habit and was spending £100 a day on drugs. He was also homeless.

He was aware the tips bowl was present and stole the money to buy food and drugs.

A victim impact statement by the assistant manager of Beaton's Tearooms Chester said staff work long hours at the popular tea shop and tips are gratefully received.

The theft – the first experienced at the tearooms – had had an impact and staff had to change their working practices.

Previously they had helped homeless people by giving them free food but this was now being reviewed, and all staff were now anxious whenever a homeless person came in.

Scott had 24 convictions for 43 previous offences, 14 of them for thefts from stores.

A report from probation heard Scott had been attending the supervision appointments but had been reluctant to engage, and was deemed a high risk of reoffending.

Defending, Richard Simm said it was quite sad that Scott was so entrenched in his drug taking and did not intend to cause staff distress by what he had done.

He was honest enough to say he was in a dark place and it was against the grain to actually ask for a custodial sentence to help him stay off drugs.

Magistrates agreed and sentenced Scott to 18 weeks in jail for the theft, plus two weeks consecutively for the post-sentence supervision order breach.

A total of £52 compensation was to be paid to Beatons Tearooms in the next 12 months.

Upon being sentenced, Scott said "nice one" to the magistrates as he was led to the cells.