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Political activist Mark Conway says Tories forced him to shoplift booze from Waitrose in Hythe

A wannabe actor, who claims to be an activist for Jeremy Corbyn, blamed ‘the Tories’ after being caught on camera stealing £220 worth of alcohol from Waitrose in Hythe.

Mark Conway denied shoplifting, despite admitting he and a friend stole the items.

The 57-year-old represented himself at the trial at Canterbury Crown Court and launched a 15-minute diatribe at the jury before they had heard any evidence.

He stole bottles of booze from Waitrose
He stole bottles of booze from Waitrose

In it, he blamed “the looting Tories who were the real criminals”, a chief constable, who he claimed to have shamed, the high suicide rate, power prices, Tony Blair, the Murdoch Press, David Cameron’s broken election promises and his lack of an education.

After being arrested he told officers he planned to ask for a trial because “there are a few things I want to say about my accusers”.

Conway told the police officer: “You see I don’t work for a bunch of criminals but you do and I feel sorry for you. But it’s not really your fault is it?”

He declined to give evidence during the one-day trial but told the jury: “I am not pretending that I didn’t take that stuff but I was forced into a corner and I was forced to rebel.

“I want these election fraudsters out and put someone honest and decent in power. I want to do as much constructive stirring as I possibly can and hopefully some good will come out of it.

“I am honest and I was forced into a corner. I am a real Christian and I just want to put a good home together and start living before I die.

“The plea was guilty or not guilty. Had the plea been guilty or innocent, I’d say I am innocent.”

He added he had no respect for the “Tory laws” but when Jeremy Corbyn “who is no one’s puppet”, gets in, “then my respect will change”.

He said he had been born in Liverpool and was now “an activist for Jeremy Corbyn”.

He had been “in the gutter” because of his drugs addiction and felt “psychologically” beaten and left in the “underclass”.

Conway, who now lives in Hastings, added that he did voluntary work at a local theatre and hoped to take up acting in the future.

In his final speech, he claimed to have been “stitched up” after exposing a chief constable and asked the jury to suggest a compensation figure, adding: “even if I don’t get it..it doesn’t matter”.

The defendant claimed to be an activist for Jeremy Corbyn
The defendant claimed to be an activist for Jeremy Corbyn

Prosecutor Madeleine Wolfe had told the court how Conway and a woman, who admitted shoplifting at a hearing at Margate Magistrates’ Court – were seen placing items in a trolley and paid for goods at the check-out.

But before then seven bottles of whisky, vodka, brandy and Drambuie had been transferred into a black bag and the couple attempted to leave the store without paying for them.

The jury agreed and convicted him after a few minutes and he was given bail until the new year when Conway, who has previous convictions going back to the 1970s including shoplifting, faces a possible jail sentence.

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