THE smile was wiped off a Worcester shoplifter's face as he ranted during a temper tantrum when he learned he would not be walking out of prison.

Cornel Gheorghe, who targeted the city's Boots store in £8,000 raids, could be seen grinning at a previous court hearing but his smile had disappeared completely as he ranted at Worcester Crown Court yesterday.

Learning he would not walk free as he had anticipated, the 34-year-old demanded to go home and hit out at adjournments and at the probation service.

He targeted the High Street store during three brazen raids, all captured on CCTV - on one occasion returning to the same store within half an hour to carry on his spree.

The thief cleared whole shelves of high value cosmetics, razors and toothbrush heads on three separate sprees worth £8,227 at a time when city businesses were struggling though the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of lockdown.

The defendant appeared over videolink from HMP Pentonville and was clearly frustrated when he learned he would be staying where he was having already spent two months in prison on remand waiting to be sentenced.

The dad could be seen wildly gesticulating, waving his arms around, crying, shouting, putting his head in his hands and banging his fist down on the table as he tried to make himself understood via his Romanian interpreter.

No pre-sentence report had been prepared by the probation service, despite one being ordered when Gheorghe appeared before magistrates last November, pleading guilty at the first available opportunity.

Matters were further complicated because, according to the probation officer, the prison is not hosting videolinks until May 24 which means the defendant could not be interviewed to prepare such a report.

Without the report, Judge Nicolas Cartwright was unwilling to sentence Gheorghe. A clearly agitated defendant shouted: "I was hoping to go home today! I want to speak to my solicitor!"

One of the possible sentences for shop theft is a community order but an immediate custodial sentence is also a possibility.

At one stage the defendant said 'my case has already been adjourned twice because of no probation report', 'I was told I would be sentenced' and 'why is probation not doing their job?'

Nick Berry, prosecuting, opened the case - which will now have to be opened a second time despite courts across the country creaking under a colossal Covid-19 backlog of cases awaiting resolution.

Mr Berry said during the first raid the defendant entered Boots at around 4.43pm on October 19 last year, selecting various items including toothbrush heads and placing them in a carrier bag.

He then cleared three shelves of No7 skin creams before moving on to steal makeup including NYX mascaras, men's razors and other branded products. Returning to the skin cream section he stole more No7 creams before leaving via the rear doors.

In that single spree he stole £4,494 worth of goods. Not content with his haul, he returned at 3.18pm on October 26 last year with a pink gift bag, again targeting No7 skin creams then leaving the store. Within half an hour, at 3.43pm, he was back again, stealing various bags of makeup and skin care products. The total amount stolen in that instance was £2,748.

Gheorghe returned yet again on November 2 last year at around 5.05pm, again using a gift bag to conceal stolen items and leaving the store without paying but was detained outside by members of the Debenhams loss prevention team. The defendant was arrested at 5.46pm. He had stolen a further £984 of goods in that raid.

Mr Berry said: "The defendant was transported into custody. He was interviewed and admitted all three offences but disputed the extent in terms of the value of the items stolen. He explained that he was unemployed and was under pressure to provide for his two young children."

Gheorghe has two previous convictions for three offences which also involved thefts, one at Boots in Ipswich where he stole £44 worth of goods. This resulted in a two week prison sentence.

He also entered B&Q and stole £619 of door knobs, receiving a four week term of immediate imprisonment.

Mr Berry argued that the Worcester shoplifting at Boots caused 'significant additional harm'. "One store has been targeted with a total loss of £8,227. It's submitted this is a significant value in the context of shoplifting that has had the result of depriving that Boots store of that value of legitimate sales within that fortnight period."

The case was adjourned until April 16. Gheorghe of Sutherland Road, Enfield, was ordered to be produced in person on the next occasion rather than appearing over link.

The court liaison probation officer will interview the defendant with the assistance of a Romanian interpreter at court before he delivers a stand-down report.

Then the court will move to sentence him at a hearing which will not take place before noon.