Police officer confronted thief caught stealing meat in Burnley Marks and Spencer

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A thief caught stealing meat worth almost £100, struggled with police to try and escape and ended up being PARVA sprayed, a court heard.

Ex-addict Michael Exton (47), already on a community order with a drugs programme, was said to be spitting towards officers during the trouble at Marks and Spencer in Burnley.

The town's magistrates were told how an officer was on a separate inquiry at the store and was in the CCTV control room. It became apparent Exton was putting items in a bag and the officer took hold of his arm and told him to stop.

Mr Andrew Robinson, prosecuting, said Exton dropped the meat on the floor and told the officer: "Let me go. You have got the meat. Let me leave."

The defendant was told he was under arrest and began to pull away and struggle.

The officer reached for his handcuffs and Exton was told to stop struggling.

He wasn't listening and the officer eventually decided to use his spray.

Other officers arrived and Exton continued to resist after the PARVA spray.

Mr Robinson continued: "The officer felt it necessary to use a knee strike to get him to comply. He was spitting towards other officers. "

Mr Daniel Frazer, defending, said Exton made full and frank admissions to the police. The solicitor continued: "He says he wasn't spitting intentionally or recklessly. He had PARVA spray in his mouth. He was simply spitting to clear his mouth."

Mr Frazer said Exton had been making positive progress on the drugs programme.

The solicitor went on: "He seems to have got the use out of the probation service. At the time of this incident his benefits had stopped and he was struggling for money.

"He wasn't stealing to fund a drug habit. He was stealing these items to consume them."

The defendant, of Holcombe Drive, Burnley, admitted theft to the value of £98.91 and resisting police, on April 12th.

He was given a six-month community order, with a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement. Exton was fined £20 and was told to pay an £85 victim surcharge.