I found a very interesting article on the Northern Echo’s website about a man who claims he was forced to steal in order to eat due to his benefits being sanctioned.
Mulholland, a 43 year-old from Newton Ayecliffe has been given a prison sentence for stealing 3 packets of casserole steak from Sainsbury’s, costing a total of £12.60. His defence for the theft was that he only stole the steak because his benefits had been sanctioned. However, his benefits were only sanctioned due to him failing to attend appointments at his local Jobcentre Plus. Mr Mulholland claimed that he couldn’t get to his local food bank when his benefits were cut due to him having ulcerated legs… So if that was the case then how was he able to get to the local store and steal? He also claims that he was without benefits for 9 weeks when he attempted to change his benefits to reflect his disability needs.
His defence solicitor, B Pegman, stated that the crime was a result of the recent financial situation Mr Mulholland was in, adding; “he is fre of heroin and in receipt of methadone but this is not offending to top that up but offering to eat.”
Mulholland pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to 6 weeks in prison. A suspended sentence was also imposed for a previous offence, taking his prison sentence to 14 weeks altogether.
C Bradshaw, a food bank manager organised by Darlington’s Salvation Army, stated that the cases of people stealing in order to eat are increasing as a result of benefit reforms and sanctions. Bradshaw is also calling for the abolishment if benefit sanctioning which results in claimant’s benefits being reduced or stopped entirely if they are suspected of non-compliance… So in other words, he basically wants claimants to be given money and not expected to look for work etc? Yeah great plan. Not.
And he can’t exactly say that Mulholland was sanctioned for non-compliance considering he failed to attend appointments, if he had a genuine reason for not going then all he had to do was inform them and take a doctors letter to his next appointment. I don’t believe for one second that his “disability” renders him completely immobile therefore he could actually make an effort and get into the doctors and Jobcentre. He has no one to blame here but himself.
As for the theft, regardless of the reasons behind the crime, it is still an offence. People can disagree as much as they like about him being sentenced for stealing in order to eat, however, he still intended to permanently deprive a company of the stole items rather than actually trying to sort a more legal method to his problems.