A MAN described himself as "stupid" in court after he was convicted for stealing meat.

Andres Pope told magistrates in Worcester he had made a mistake after he pleaded guilty to the theft.

The court heard how Pope, 45, had found out his benefits were being stopped and would be moving on to universal credit on the day the theft took place, December 8, last year.

According to his defence solicitor Susie Duncan, he took this badly and did not know how to cope.

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She said: "He received a phone call from the Department of Work and Pensions on December 5 telling him his benefits had been stopped.

"They said he needed to apply for universal credit so he went to a friend's who had access to a computer.

"Apparently he had all his details but the system wasn't accepting them.

"He suffers from anxiety and depression so he didn't know how he was going to cope.

"He didn't have any food in the fridge and it all became too much for him."

The court heard how Pope, of Dines Green, then drank nearly two bottles of gin. Because he was struggling to cope, he went outside and tried to hang himself.

Because of this, police were called to the scene after concerns were raised for his welfare.

Before the police arrived, he decided to go to the Marks and Spencer petrol station nearby, where he helped himself to sausages and parma ham because he was hungry.

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When police eventually found him, they found the stolen meat and arrested him for theft.

Emily Clewer, prosecuting, said: "He was found in Broad Street after concerns were raised for his welfare.

"His bag had several packs of meat inside that had been taken from Marks and Spencer .

"CCTV from the store showed him taking it."

The court heard how Pope's general situation had "improved" since the incident, being helped by the DWP to find work.

Addressing the magistrates, Pope said the situation with his Universal Credit was not an excuse.

He said: "Not everybody who goes onto Universal Credit steals, I was just stupid."

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Chair of the bench Gareth Thomas was also handed a written statement from Pope, which said: "This is by no means an excuse for my torrid behaviour. I stole the food to eat. It was an impulsive thing to do and I know I must be punished and accept that."

Mr Thomas and his fellow magistrates decided to order compensation costs and a fine instead of a community order as they did not want Pope to be back inside the criminal justice system, feeling he was getting the help he needed from Swanswell and the DWP.

He said: "We have listened hard to what has been said and have considered whether probation is worthwhile.

"We are impressed by the decision you have taken to work with Swanswell -so go and see them and get yourself sorted out."

No action was taken against Pope for breaching a community order imposed last year, and the bench instead decided to award compensation worth £50.20 to M&S - the value of the meat.

Pope was also ordered to pay a £40 fine with costs of £50 and a victim surcharge of £32 when he was sentenced on January 16.