A HOMELESS man has been ordered to pay a total of £110 after being caught begging in Chester.

Andrew Graham, 35, had been living at an address in Upton with a partner in December 2018, but both were made homeless early that month.

Prosecuting at Chester Magistrates Court on Monday, February 11, Kerry Pepperell said police officers found Graham in a blanket at 11.40pm on January 25 at St John Street, where they heard him say: "Any spare change for the homeless?"

Graham, whose last conviction was in 2016 for harassment, pleaded guilty to one charge of begging.

The defendant, who represented himself, said: "I am sorry for what I did. We have severe issues with alcohol and drugs. I have not drunk for four days and not used for seven days and I am trying to go on the treatment programmes.

"I have been in one-to-one interviews; I have found it hard to adapt with other people on the same issues as me so I prefer one-to-one [support].

"It has been really hard. The struggle is to find a stable residence for me and my partner."

Magistrates were advised they had only one option of punishment, that being a financial penalty. They fined Graham £40, with the defendant ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and a contribution towards court costs of £40.

Chair of magistrates William Garnett told Graham: "I don't think we are in any doubt about the circumstances. You are absolutely clear that this type of behaviour is an offence. We are left in the position where we have to resort to a financial penalty, which fans the flames somewhat.

"Nevertheless, the law is the law and other people follow it.

"I imagine the £110 you need far more than the court does.

"If you have sought help from the likes of Aqua House I would urge you to keep doing so."

The court heard Graham was on Universal Credit and advised him that, unlike other benefits, he would not be able to have the penalty automatically deducted at £5 per week as there were cases where people on Universal Credit would have funds deducted at significantly larger sums of £20+ per week.

The court advised Graham to set up a standing order for the money to be deducted from his account at the minimum rate of £5 per week.