Pair in court over vodka theft

TWO alcoholics tried to evade arrest by running away from police after stealing more than £50 worth of vodka from a supermarket in Battle.

Jamie Lee, 25, of Warrior Gardens, St Leonards, and 25-year-old Andrew Wheeler, of De La Warr Road, Bexhill, were spotted helping themselves to the items in Jempson’s/Budgens in Market Square on May 7 before hiding the goods under their clothes.

They were both seen in the High Street but ran off before being caught by police.

At a court hearing on Monday, Mark Kateley, prosecuting, told magistrates that Wheeler became aggressive and struck an officer in the arm.

He later told police he was so drunk he could not remember hitting the police officer.

Lee pleaded guilty to shoplifting during the hearing at Hastings Magistrates Court.

Wheeler admitted the same charge and also pleaded guilty to two other thefts and assaulting a police officer.

Ronan Crummy, defending both Lee and Wheeler, said: “Both defendants have something of an alcohol problem and Mr Wheeler’s goes back to when he was 16.

“Mr Lee had been able to give up the alcohol until January this year when his partner stopped contact with their child so for solace he began to drink again.

“The officer who was assaulted felt no pain and was not injured.”

Magistrates gave both Lee and Wheeler a six-month community order and ordered each of them to pay £85 costs.

Wheeler must pay £50 compensation.