A REFORMING alcoholic hit the bottle after ending the relationship with his partner who he suspected of being unfaithful.

Blackburn magistrates heard Darren Maskell stole Christmas presents and jewellery worth £1,000 which he then sold to fund a drinking binge.

The court was told some of the 50 presents Gaskell stole were meant for his ex-partner’s children.

Gaskell, 44, of the Salvation Army Hostel, Heaton Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to theft of numerous items belonging to Claire Stuttard.

He was made subject to a community order for 12 months with 15 days' rehabilitation activity requirement, fined £50 and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said the couple were living together in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, but the relationship broke down because he suspected she was texting another man.

“She went to work and when she came home he wasn’t there,” said Mrs Yates.

“She realised the children’s presents and a quantity of her jewellery were missing. She sent him some text messages but he didn’t reply.”

When he was interviewed by police Maskell said he had taken the items and sold them to buy drink because he was an alcoholic.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said Maskell, who had abstained from alcohol for eight years prior to the breakdown of the relationship, suspected his partner was involved with other men.

“In the two months before he left and came back to his native Blackburn he had provided her with a lot of money, contributing to the family bills and the cost of Christmas,” said Mr Taylor.

“He felt betrayed, started drinking and made the decision to leave, taking the items in the charge with him.”

Mr Taylor said his client accepted he was an alcoholic.