A serial Norwich shoplifter has been jailed after admitting six thefts in little more than a fortnight.

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The catalogue of offences put Paul James, 22, in breach of a suspended sentence order, and he was yesterday sentenced to 22 weeks in custody.

Magistrates in Norwich heard that the 22-year-old, of Shorncliffe Avenue, Mile Cross, had been short of money and “struggling to keep his head above water” since moving to Norwich from Thetford to live with his brother.

He yesterday pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates’ Court to four charges of theft, and admitted a breach of a suspended sentence order.

Two offences, both on June 11, when he stole cosmetics worth £9.99 and £39.98 from Boots in two separate incidents, were committed while he was on bail. He also stole cosmetics worth £19.99 from the same store on June 25, and £29.99 on July 4.

Prosecutor Denis King told the court James had stolen make-up from Boots in Norwich on four occasions, all of which were captured on CCTV.

“He was seen in Boots on July 4, entering and selecting cosmetics,” he said.

“He removed cream from its box, placing it in his pocket and leaving the box behind.”

Mr King said the other offences were all “very similar” and that store security guards had recognised James from CCTV footage.

Mitigating, Gavin Cowe said his client had had difficulties with benefit payments, and was relying on £45 a fortnight.

He added: “That more or less keeps a roof over his head, and not a lot else. He is struggling to keep his head above water.”

James had been using drugs and was dealing with the recent news that his mother had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, added Mr Cowe.

The four offences were in addition to a theft James admitted on June 18, when he was handed a 20-week sentence suspended for 12 months, and an offence of shoplifting two days later, for which the period of suspension was extended to 18 months.

At that hearing, James told magistrates that he had stolen tights from Primark because he needed money for food.

Magistrates yesterday chose to activate the 20-week sentence, added two weeks to run consecutively for the offences on June 25 and July 4, and two weeks concurrently for the other two offences.

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