A SHOPLIFTER who had beaten a heroin addiction stole baby food to sell on to feed his drugs habit after he relapsed following family tragedy.

Richard Kupfer stole washing liquids worth £24 from the Spar shop in Blake Avenue, Droitwich and 45 pouches of baby food worth £72 from the Co-op in The Bull Ring, St John’s, Worcester.

The 29-year-old of Old Meadows, Whittington, admitted the thefts when he appeared before magistrates in Worcester on Thursday. The Droitwich theft took place on October 16 and the Worcester theft on October 22. Peter Love, prosecuting, said the defendant’s record showed previous theft offences.

He was identified via shop CCTV and fully admitted the thefts.

Mark Sheward, defending, said Kupfer had had an entrenched heroin addiction for a number of years.

“Most of the acquisitive crime was committed to fund that addiction” said the solicitor.

He added: “For last few years he has been able to remove himself from heroin and hasn’t been appearing before the courts.”

However, the defendant’s father was diagnosed with cancer and Kupfer ‘took it badly’ and began using heroin again.

“These offences were committed to fund that heroin usage he had,” said Mr Sheward.

He described how Kupfer’s family had since ‘rallied around him’ and he was not using heroin at the present time having once more freed himself from the drug.

Kupfer is receiving Universal Credit of £309 per month but now has his own accommodation and is looking for work. Bailiffs are now in touch with him over £3,000 he owes to the courts. The baby food was found on Kupfer and returned to the store but Mr Sheward accepted his client should pay compensation for the other items which were not recovered. “He has been to prison before. He doesn’t like the prospect of that,” said Mr Sheward.

Magistrates sentenced gave him a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay compensation to the Spar of £24, a contribution to costs of £80 and a statutory victim surcharge of £22. Another defendant, Darren Pass, 50, of Barbourne Road, Worcester was due to be sentenced on Thursday for multiple shoplifting offences but could not be dealt with after informing the court he had developed symptoms of Covid-19.