A SHOPLIFTER has avoided jail despite repeatedly failing to do community punishments and continuing to offend.

York magistrates told Lee Paul Haigh, 40, to improve his abilities to find a job instead.

He was before them for breaching a community order for the third time and stealing a £35 bottle of whisky from Marks & Spencer's Pavement store while subject to it.

The order of a drug rehabilitation requirement, supervision and a curfew was imposed in November to replace another community order containing unpaid work for shop thefts, which probation officers had said was unworkable. Haigh hadn't done the unpaid work because he was mentally ill.

The whisky theft breached a conditional discharge for possessing drugs, imposed in January.

The bench heard their colleagues had extended the replacement community order because Haigh had twice been out of his home during curfew hours. He was now not attending supervision appointments. They also heard that they could revoke the order completely and send him to prison instead for all offences.

Haigh, of Rosemary Place, off Navigation Road in York, admitted the third community order breach, the whisky theft and breaching the conditional discharge.

Magistrates added five days of job hunting activity and a 12-hour nightly curfew for 28 days to the order for the theft and community order breach. They gave him no punishment for breaching the conditional discharge, which will continue.

For Haigh, Craig Robertson said: "Shopkeepers in York are not shouting about this man. He is not offending regularly."

He said Haigh was making progress, had settled accommodation and had dealt with his depression. He was doing the drug rehabilitation and had distanced himself from the drug culture he had been part of. If he was locked up, he would be associating again with drug users, he said.