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William Gregory stole £570 worth of meat from M&S Foodhall in the Warren Retail Park in Ashford

By Sean Axtell

A thief stole hundreds of pounds worth of meat from supermarkets to fund his heroin habit, a court heard.

William Gregory, 33, would sneak expensive meat from an M&S Foodhall into his carrier bag in plain view of CCTV.

Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard Gregory stole £125 worth of meat from the Foodhall on the Warren Retail Park on November 12.

William Gregory leaving court
William Gregory leaving court

He went on to steal £445 worth of meat from M&S on November 27 on two separate occasions.

The court heard Gregory also targeted Asda in Kimberly Way on November 11, stealing an undisclosed amount of meat.

M&S staff monitored CCTV footage after noticing a significant dip in stock, prosecutor Neil Sweeney explained.

In mitigation, Mark Trafford said there was “no proof” the stolen stock mounted to £570, as claimed by M&S.

But Mr Sweeney quipped the amount is likely correct referencing the company’s famous advert: “Because this wasn’t just any meat – it was Marks and Spencer meat.”

He explained: “At M&S the suspect was seen placing various meats inside a carrier bag and leaves without trying to pay.”

"You have to bear in mind it wasn’t just any old meat madam, it was Marks and Spencer meat...” Neil Sweeney

Mr Trafford said: “We have seen no proof the meat costs as much as M&S are saying.”

Mr Trafford said his client “did all that he could to survive” and the batches of meat had been sold for heroin.

Speaking to the chairman of the bench, Mr Sweeney retorted: “M&S initially found out about the theft because they noticed a loss in their stock.

“You have to bear in mind it wasn’t just any old meat madam, it was Marks and Spencer meat,” to laughter in the courtroom.

He added Asda also collared Gregory, who is on Universal Credit, after examining CCTV footage.

The M&S Foodhall in Ashford (6346793)
The M&S Foodhall in Ashford (6346793)

Dressed in a dark hoodie and blue jeans, Gregory, who is registered with the courts as no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to four charges of theft and was ordered to pay £50 compensation for each theft.

He was also given an eight-week prison sentence suspended for six months during a hearing last Wednesday.

It will run concurrently with a previous community order for a similar offence. The chairman of the bench said: “This means that if you offend within this period it is very likely you will end up with a custodial sentence.”

Magistrates also ordered Gregory to pay £50 compensation for each theft.

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