A SHOPLIFTER who was challenged by store supervisor hit him with a frozen leg of lamb.

Blackburn magistrates heard Gareth Edward Thomas also assaulted a female member of staff at another shop when she caught him in the act.

Thomas, 38, of The Shires, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to stealing three frozen legs of lamb and six packets of steak from Iceland on January 31 and assaulting Kieron Southworth and theft of dishwasher products worth £36 from Tesco Express and assaulting Joanne Mellor on February 2. He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £60 compensation to each victim.

Scott Parker, prosecuting, said on February 6, a week after the first offence and two days before the incident in Iceland, Thomas had been made subject to a community order for offences of shoplifting and criminal damage.

At Tesco Express on Livesey Branch Road Thomas triggered a security alarm at 11.15am. He was confronted by Ms Mellor after she saw him heading for the exit with his jacket bulging with items he hadn’t paid for.

She tried to stop him leaving but he pushed her and then grabbed her by the wrist and pushed her into the bins outside the store.

“She fell and banged her head on the bins,” said Mr Parker. “This was particularly worrying for her because she had previously had surgery on her neck.”

Mr Parker said Thomas was seen putting items inside his jacket in Iceland. He went to the till and asked the price of a loaf of bread and then walked out.

“He was confronted by Mr Southworth who asked him to return the items he had under his jacket,” said Mr Parker.

“There was some pushing and then Thomas swung a frozen leg of lamb at his head. It missed his head but hit him on the shoulder. Colleagues came to assist and there was a scuffle during which Mr Southworth was punched in the face.”

Daniel Frazer, defending, said his client was a drug addict. He said Thomas had been living with his mother and she had been supporting him.

“He was free from drugs and free from crime until his sister came to stay and a wedge was driven between him and his mother,” said Mr Frazer. “He found himself homeless and started using again.”

Mr Frazer said the sister had now moved away and Thomas had been able to move back in with his mother and stabilise his life again.