Thief caught after stopping to eat mince pie

Paul Ness. Picture: contributed
Paul Ness. Picture: contributed

A DOPEY robber was caught breaking into a charity shop – after he stopped his raid to tuck into a mince pie.

Paul Ness smashed his way in to the British Heart Foundation store in Leith and filled three shopping bags full of donated goods.

But instead of making a run for it, the hungry thief decided to heat up a mince pie in the charity shop’s staff microwave.

Ness, 42, was still munching away when police officers arrived on the scene and caught him tucking into the pie inside the shop’s kitchen.

Ness – who was handed a seven-year prison term for culpable homicide in 1996 – was due to be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday after previously pleading guilty to the charity shop break-in.

But sentence was further deferred to next month after he appeared from custody and admitted additional theft charges which took place last week.

Fiscal depute Gerard Drugan had told the court police arrived at the shop in Great Junction Street at around 4.30am on January 31 this year after a neighbour had reported the sound of breaking glass.

Mr Drugan said: “On arrival they saw the front door’s glass panel had been forced and a pane of glass was lying inside the shop.

“The police then entered and saw a light on upstairs. They saw the shop had been searched and boxes had been searched and strewn around the floor.

“Officers entered the kitchen and found the accused Ness standing eating a mince pie. He said he had been invited in by a stranger and then got locked in.”

Ness, from Longstone, was under the influence of drugs and found shopping bags stuffed full of items he had taken from the shelves including jewellery, watches and a portable DVD player.

The thief, who was remanded following Thursday’s court appearance, had even ripped a charity box from the shop’s counter which was later found on the floor.

Murray Robertson, defending, said his client had “found it difficult to engage with others” over the years, and there had been “full recovery of the items”.

Ness – who has more than 60 convictions to his name including theft and drug offences – was sentenced to seven years for culpable homicide in 1996.