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This Britain

Prolific shoplifter Harry Hankinson spared jail yet again despite having amassed over 500 convictions


A prolific shoplifter has been spared jail on his 501st offence after a court was informed that a brain injury could be contributing to his behaviour.

Harry Hankinson fell out of a window in 1970 and went on to commit a series of offences over the following 43 years. Stephen Teasdale, defending, told the court that his injuries had created a “compulsive behaviour to shoplift”.

Hankinson, 64, was handed a four month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months for his 501st offence that involved stealing clothes, perfume and toiletries worth over £800 from department stores such as Boots and Debenhams between April and May.

He already has convictions for theft, violence, sexual offences, two crimes against property and drug related offences. He is believed to be the person holding the most criminal convictions in British legal history and has stolen from dozens of shops in his home town of Bolton. Speaking in Bolton Magistrates Court, he said he was ashamed of his actions.

Hankinson's previous heists have reportedly included stealing jewellery worth over £1,000 from two shops in Ripon, north Yorkshire. On another occasion, he asked a shop assistant at the Body Shop to point out the most expensive product in the store, before then trying to steal it.

He was also issued an electronic curfew for six months, between the hours of 10am and 5pm and ordered to pay an £80 fine.

Chairman of the magistrates Nat Ayisi-Biney said: “It’s up to you now, we want to help you.”