Thief could pay back as little as £1

In Court
In Court

A prolific jewellery thief who stole diamonds worth more than a third of a million pounds across our region has been ordered to repay just £1 after a court heard he has no assets.

David Stephenson, who is currently serving a five-year jail sentence, carried out distraction raids on jewellery shops across the country- including stores in Lincoln and Retford - before he was finally brought to justice after he was recognised by staff at a store he was planning to steal from.

Recorder Timothy Spencer QC ruled that Stephenson benefited from his crimes by £384,000 but ordered him to repay a nominal £1 after being told there were no assets to seize. Stephenson’s victims included the Lincoln firm of James Usher Jewellers. He visited the firm’s shop in Guildhall Street in September last year asking to look at a display of rings in the window.

Steve Taylor, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing that Stephenson told staff he wanted to buy a present for his wife and identified a ring which he asked to be gift wrapped. As staff prepared the item he walked out of the shop saying he was going to speak to his wife. But he never returned and staff, suspicious at what happened, checked their CCTV security cameras and discovered that during the transaction he reached into a cabinet and took an 18ct diamond necklace worth £20,350. The offence was one of a number of similar thefts carried out by Stephenson at jewellery shops across the country which netted him a total of £384,000 worth of items.

The Retford offence happened on 8th February last year and was one of a number of similar thefts carried out by Stephenson at jewellery shops across the country which netted him a total of £384,000 worth of items, the court was told.

Stephenson, 37, of Malvern Road, Doncaster, admitted nine charges of theft between October 2011 and October last year. He was jailed for five years and given a three-month consecutive sentence for common assault to a shop worker who tried to apprehend him.

Julian Gaskin, defending, said Stephenson was a cocaine user and his drug taking was linked to the heart problem.

He said: “He has a partner and two young children. He has recently felt he is going to die if he carries on misusing drugs. He is motivated to change his lifestyle and remain as best he can drug free.”