A one-time prolific Colne crook who managed to keep his nose clean for a year returned to stealing when he fell back into his drugs habit, a court heard.

Francis Duffy, 36, pinched meat and cheese worth about £200 from shops in Colne and Brierfield over several days. He made full admissions when questioned by police.

Burnley magistrates were told how Duffy has 200 offences on his record, almost all of them for similar offences and had been out thieving on almost a daily basis over the years.

The hearing was told the defendant was now progressing well on a drugs programme imposed recently and a judge gave him to chance to continue.

The defendant, formerly of Slater Avenue, Colne, and who lived in the town for many years, has now moved to Sough, Earby. He admitted theft allegations at the end of May and beginning of June. Duffy received a community order with a 12 week curfew, between 8pm and 8am. He must pay £120 compensation.

Sentencing him, District Judge James Clarke said custody wasn't inevitable. He said he was giving the defendant the opportunity to continue with his current supervision order as his attendance had been good and it was early days in respect of the order.

The judge added :" A wise man said to me rehabilitation is a process, not an event. I think the process is starting for you."

Mark Williams, defending Duffy, said he accepted his record did him no favours whatsoever. In December 2012, the defendant had been given a drugs rehabilitation order and he had completed it without breach and kept out of trouble for the whole of 2013. But, his drug habit then resurfaced and he was sentenced for theft and making a false representation.

The solicitor continued:" He's co-operating with the order and keeping his appointments. He has kept nine out of 11 appointments. He seems to be progressing quite well and the medication he has now been prescribed was only prescribed last week."