A burglar who tried to steal art off the walls of The Libertines’ Albion Rooms hotel claimed lead singer Pete Doherty gave him permission to come and go as he pleased.
James Samson, of no fixed address, trespassed into the band’s famous Margate hotel and attempted to take a framed Russian print on August 4 last year.
Prosecuting, Neil Sweeney explained when the thief was confronted by police outside the establishment he claimed rather than stealing the picture, he was in fact, trying to sell it.
“An on-duty PC saw Mr Samson carrying a large grey bag on his back and asked him what he was doing,” recalled Mr Sweeney.
“Mr Samson replied that there were pictures inside the bag that he was trying to sell and that he was in the Albion Rooms just to use the toilets.”
Officers spoke to employees of the hotel who pointed out where the picture was taken from, before identifying the criminal in CCTV footage, Mr Sweeney told Folkestone Magistrates’ Court.
The prosecutor continued to say how on the day of the offence, Mr Samson pleaded with officers not to arrest him as it was his daughter’s birthday.
“The defendant was then interviewed at Margate police station where he told officers: ‘Pete Doherty is my friend, he said I could go to the Albion Rooms whenever I want to’.
“He went on to give a no-comment interview other than to say: ‘Just ask Pete’.”
Pete Doherty revealed in a recent interview with Louis Theroux the reason he left Margate for France was because he was “a magnet to jerks” in the town.
The value of the picture is unknown, but Samson’s solicitor, John Barker, said it is a “mere print readily available for a few pounds”, adding that the frame likely out-values the art itself.
Mitigating, he explained his client, who pleaded guilty to the offence, had long struggled with drug problems.
“For many years, my client has suffered from drug dependency and has committed many offences of inquisitive dishonesty,” said Mr Barker.
“But when in 2015 he received a significant sentence of imprisonment, he turned his life around.
“He remained abstinent for a considerable period of time and even obtained a drug and alcohol counsellor qualification - a poacher turned game-keeper.”
But Mr Baker told the bench that the death of one of Mr Samson’s young children caused him to relapse.
“It had a terrible effect on my client and he went back into drugs and bad habits and that is the background of this particular offence.”
Appearing over video link from prison, where Samson is currently serving a custodial sentence of two years and four months for burglary, the defendant suddenly burst into animation.
“Let’s go to crown court and spend 100 grand,” yelled Samson.
“I thought I would just get one magistrate, now I’ve got three of them that aren’t even trained in law and this could go anywhere.”
Chairman of the bench, Peter Goodwin, warned the defendant to be quiet or else his microphone would be muted, before delivering the verdict.
“We are imposing a period of custody of three months for this offence, to run concurrently with your existing sentence.
“We are ordering no costs, but you will have to pay the statutory victim surcharge of £154.”