A SHOPLIFTER had to celebrate the New Year in prison after he failed to attend court in November.

York magistrates gave David Keith Bettles-Hall a 12-week prison sentence on New Year’s Eve for six offences of shop theft committed in August and early September.

He was appearing before them on a warrant signed by their colleagues on November 21.

Duty solicitor Sean Wilson said Bettles-Hall had known he should attend court on November 21 but had overslept.

"When he got to court he was told the warrant had already been issued and the matter wasn't going to be reopened," he said. "He would not have arrived before lunchtime."

Magistrate Dafydd Williams, on behalf of the bench, told Bettles-Hall: "You have a terrible record for shoplifting and have shown no attempt to comply with the orders of the court. We feel only a custodial sentence can be justified."

A probation report to the court said that Bettles-Hall had not attended an appointment with the service since August 19 despite being put on a community order in May and appearing in court for breaching it in July.

He had only attended half the appointments on his post-sentence supervision after his release from a 10-week prison sentence imposed in late September for thefts.

On New Year's Eve, Bettles-Hall, who gave his address as Albany Avenue, Harrogate, pleaded guilty to six offences of shop theft, mostly of meat.

Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting, said they were all committed on or near Skipton Road, Harrogate, and together totalled £264.77.

Mr Wilson said Bettles-Hall had been a heroin addict for four years and stole to fund his habit.

After his release from prison from the 10-week sentence in late October, he had been living in a tent and this had affected his health.