A PROLIFIC burglar who has been before the courts more than 50 times has been given another chance – despite a judge accepting he was a social nuisance whose crimes put small businesses in jeopardy.

Kristopher John Murphy, 32, appeared in the dock at Burnley Crown Court having pleaded guilty to 15 offences, nine for shoplifting at Boots and Peacocks in Accrington last January.

The other six charges related to burglaries between July and October 2018 at shops in Accrington, including The Beauty Emporium, Boutique 23, Cafe 33, Jeff Ellis chip shop, and Coffee Beanz, where he took cash and caused damage.

Murphy’s blood was left behind at two shops and he caused £4,000 of damage at the chip shop.

Prosecuting, David Clarke said his spree had caused upheaval to his victims and in one case the closure of a businesses.

However, in August Recorder Ahmed Nadim deferred sentencing for four months and told Murphy he would step back from jailing him if he continued to engage with drug rehab agency Inspire, remained free from drugs, had drug tests and continued to co-operate with the probation service.

Defending, Marianne Alton said although her client, a heroin addict of 10 years, accepted that he had slipped back into drug-taking when people had brought them into his shared accommodation, he had adhered by the judge's other conditions.

Ms Alton said: “His life was chaotic. His family were unable to cope with him. Again and again he turned to heroin and took to committing crime to pay for it. There has been a sea change in Mr Murphy’s life since his release from custody last year.”

Murphy, of Emma Street, Accrington, was sentenced to 16 weeks custody, suspended for 18 months, with a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement and and 10 rehabilitation days.

Recorder Nadim said: “This defendant was a social nuisance. His offending behaviour damaged the business prospects of a number of small businesses striving to survive in very difficult circumstances.

“Allowing for his past convictions and the seriousness of the offences and recognising he has pleaded guilty the appropriate sentence would be 16 weeks in custody.

“I don’t propose to rehearse the comments I made when he was last before me. It is pleasing to learn that he has continued on a path of progress and has made efforts to rid himself of the drug addiction that is the explaining of his past offending.

"Be that as it may, I must pass appropriate punishment in respect of those offences he has been convicted of.”

Last year Recorder Nadim banned Murphy from Accrington town centre for three years.