Man who bit John Lewis employee escapes jail

Norwich Magistrates Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Magistrates Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

A man who bit a John Lewis employee on the hand while fleeing the department store with two bottles of whisky has escaped a prison sentence.

Oliver Webb, 33, of Derby Street, Norwich, stole a whisky gift box set worth £63 from John Lewis in All Saints Green on June 30.

The next day, he returned to the department store and took two bottles of whisky worth £56, however staff recognised Webb and pursued him as he tried to leave the store.

Prosecuting, Denise Holland, said: "The defendant tried to fight [staff] off... He bit Jim Maher, puncturing the skin and left Neil Langley with marks down his left calf."

She said the bite had given Mr Maher a lot of worry.

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The court also heard how on September 23, Webb went to a Co-Op Food branch and stole £44.60 worth of groceries.

Appearing at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, October 22, Webb pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and two counts of assault by beating.

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The court heard that by stealing groceries from Co-Op Food Webb had breached a suspended sentence order.

Mitigating, Lucy Brakewell told the court Webb had stolen the groceries because his benefits had stopped, she said: "[Webb's] Universal Credit was stopped which meant he had no money for food or the man he cares for so of course my client went out and stole food items from the Co-Op."

She said similar circumstances had led to the John Lewis thefts.

Mrs Brakewell asked magistrates not to send her client to prison, and said: "He's 36 years old, he should know better.

"The long term resolution isn't prison it needs to be something else that deals with the problem."

She said Webb was currently engaging with the probation service and added: "He isn't always able to go the whole way but when it goes wrong, he panics and goes back to old ways."

Webb was ordered to pay £150 compensation to Mr Maher and £100 to Mr Langley. He was also ordered to pay £63 compensation to John Lewis, £25 for the other items stolen and a £32 victim surcharge.

Webb's suspended sentence was also increased to 16 months.

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