A “PROFESSIONAL shoplifter” stole £375 worth of alcohol from Morrisons in Welshpool, a court heard.

His solicitor argued that the theft was “unsophisticated” and that he came to the town as he wanted to go to Wales. He said that he went into the store to eat, and then decided to steal the alcohol.

However, the defendant, who lives in Birmingham, later told probation that he went to the store with the intention of stealing alcohol.

Dumitrel Neicu, 27, of Gillott Road, Edgbaston, appeared at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, where he admitted the theft.

Justin Espie, prosecuting, said that on October 15, Neicu took three bottles of Moet Champagne and 12 bottles of Famous Grouse Whiskey and left the store without paying.

The court heard that it was when the defendant returned to the store on November 24 that he was arrested.

Magistrates heard that Neicu has a previous conviction for theft in the London area and a recent caution in Warwickshire. Mr Espie said that the defendant was a “professional shoplifter” as he had committed offences in different places across the country.

Mike Davies, defending, said that Neicu could not be a professional shoplifter as what he did was “unsophisticated”.

He said: “Why would he travel to Wales to shoplift when there are plenty of shops in the Birmingham area?”

Mike Davies said: “If it was the case that he was a professional shoplifter why did he come to the court today? It would have been easy not to turn up.”

The defence said that he “might be pushing my luck” in asking for a further conditional discharge for Neicu: the sentence he received for shoplifting in London.

Mike Davies said that Neicu stole the alcohol to pay his rent.

Chair of bench, Stephen Pembroke, asked Mike Davies why the defendant had to come to Welshpool if it wasn’t to steal from the shop.

Mike Davies said that Neicu “wanted to come to Wales” and that he arrived in Welshpool and went into Morrisons to eat. He then “decided to steal alcohol”, the court heard.

However, probation officer Julian Davies, after speaking to the defendant, said that Neicu went into the store with the intention of stealing alcohol and then selling it to pay his rent.

Neicu also told probation that the second time he was in the store was to find employment and not to steal from the shop.

“He feels bad about what he’s done and feels bad about his actions,” Julian Davies said.

Magistrates sentenced Neicu for his original shoplifting offence with the charge before the court that day.

He was given a 12 month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work. He was told to pay £375 in compensation to Morrisons as well as £85 in court costs and a £90 victim surcharge.