A YORK cheese shop owner who tried to see the funny side after a thief smashed windows and grabbed bottles of gin has had the last laugh.

Harry Baines, owner of Love Cheese in Gillygate, said his father Richard came down with a pot of paint after the break-in last month and painted a humorous message on boarding used to cover one of the two smashed windows.

It reads: “Spirits may be down but the cheese is fine & gouda.”

Now the thief has been jailed for 10 months by a judge at York Crown Court.

Matthew Paul Foreman, 39, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to burglary at the fine cheeses and wines shop on December 11.

His barrister Felicity Hemlin told the court: “He is in a bad place with his mental health. He said the best place for him at the moment is prison.

“He is out of control in public. His life was spiralling out of control and this spell in prison has helped him.”

The theft was opportunistic and unsophisticated, she added.

The court heard he had 227 previous convictions, committed in different parts of the country.

Sentencing Foreman to 10 months in prison, the Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris said: “If you take (illegal) drugs it will affect your mental health. Your offending is so prolific...I could quite easily throw the book at you.

“But it is obvious looking at you, you are a man with difficulties and it wasn’t the crime of the century.”

Mr Baines said the theft had happened at the shop’s busiest time of the year, just after he had created a festive window display.

Two windows had been smashed, and the thief had been able to put his hand through one of them and grab bottles of fine gin which were just inside the window.

He said he had been told he would be getting the bottles of gin back and the windows would be fully repaired shortly.

The shop opened in September 2015, selling a selection of Continental, British and Yorkshire cheeses.

They include cheese from Hafod in Wales and Hebridean Blue from Scotland to Ribblesdale Smoked Goats Cheese of Yorkshire.