A Star Wars Lego thief was brought down to earth with a bump after police caught him stuffing toys inside his jacket.
Kieron Shepherd, 22, tried to pull a fast one by putting the box sets back on the shelf when he realised he’d been spotted by officers who had followed him into WH Smith.
But he was arrested on the spot and charged with attempted theft.
It meant serious trouble for Shepherd, who was on a suspended sentence for previous shoplifting offences.
The troubled Malton man denied the offence and appeared for what was due to be a jury trial at York Crown Court on Friday.
But after some persuading by Judge Paul Batty QC - who had delved into Shepherd’s criminal history - he was urged to have a chat with his defence counsel, and promptlychanged his plea to guilty.
Despite Shepherd’s flagrant dishonesty, Mr Batty deferred sentence, giving him one last chance to mend his ways following an impassioned defence plea by barrister
Patricia Doherty, who waxed lyrical about the defendant’s love for his pet puppy andthe tragic events which had blighted his formative years.
“He has a puppy, something he loves dearly, and that’s what he most worries about (if he goes to jail),” said Mrs Doherty.
She added that Shepherd’s troubled background - he had been in care since the age of 16 - had led to a transient and unsettled life blighted by family tragedies.
“He’s one of those young men who are completely and utterly bereft of friends andfamily,” said Mrs Doherty.
“His biggest fear is being sent to prison and there wouldn’t be anyone to look after hispuppy.”
Shepherd, of Commercial Street, pleaded guilty to attempted theft at the WH Smith store in Scarborough on March 8.
Prosecutor John Bull said: “Police saw the defendant enter the store on Burnham Road and go upstairs to the children’s toys on the second floor, where he placed a number of box sets (containing) Star Wars Lego toys under his jacket.”
He added that Shepherd received the suspended sentence following four shoplifting offences in January. One of the conditions attached to the order was that Shepherd should work with the Probation Service and comply with a drug-rehabilitation order.
But Mr Batty was astonished to hear that Shepherd had not been in touch with the offender-management service since his last offences in January.
He said he would defer sentence for another six months, but added: “If (Shepherd) cannot comply (with the requirements of the suspended sentence) I’ll lock him up -puppy or no puppy.”
Mr Batty told Shepherd: “I’m wholly unmoved by the tale about your puppy, but you are a relatively young man and you’ve been beset by more problems in your young life than most people have (experienced) in a lifetime.”
Shepherd will learn of his fate on October 21 and was told he could still avoid jail if he complied with his community-rehabilitation requirements.