Defendant hacked off finger as punishment — (The  North-West Evening Mail)

SSRI Ed note: Man on antidepressants steals suitcase from shop without any attempt to conceal the act, then drinks and cuts off his finger.

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The  North-West Evening Mail

Published on 29/11/2007

A THIEF hacked off his own finger as a punishment, despite pleading not guilty to shoplifting.

Derek John Stephen Mould, 39, chopped off the top of his left middle finger after the severity of his involvement in court proceedings sank in.

He also told magistrates and police he was merely borrowing a pink suitcase he stole from a shop, to take with him “on holiday” from his home in Lord Street, Barrow.

He said his destination was the top of a town centre car park, to get the best view of Barrow Town Hall clock.

During Tuesday’s trial at Furness Magistrates’ Court, Mould said: “I was not thinking straight and cut my finger off to punish myself.

“I have not acted as a normal human being or someone thinking clearly and sensibly.

He also told magistrates his behaviour was explained by having shared two bottles of wine with his partner and being on strong anti-depressants.

Prosecutor Mr Lee Dacre said shortly after 5pm, on May 5, a member of the public alerted staff at Sportsworld in Dalton Road, Barrow, that a man had taken away a suitcase from the doorway as he walked by.

A Sportsworld employee tracked Mould and his 20-year-old fiancee Stacey Woodburn down to the staircase inside the car park and challenged him. When asked if he had a receipt for the goods Mould shrugged his shoulders saying “it’s mine and it’s full of clothes”, the court heard.

Police arrested Mould in Duke Street after he dumped the Dunlop suitcase, worth £49.99, in the car park. It was still in saleable condition.

In custody Mould told police: “I did it because of me being off my tree.”

Prosecution witness and Sportsworld footwear manager David Snell said: “I asked to see a receipt and he just walked off up the stairs without saying anything more.”

Mr Andrew Gallagher, defending, said: “Borrowing property for two years might well be seen as theft, but in this case the property was taken for a matter of moments. The defendant accepts his behaviour was far from rational.”

Mould pleaded not guilty to theft from a shop at a hearing on July 5.

After returning a guilty verdict, presiding magistrate Gary Ormondroyd told Mould: “There has been no dispute between the parties that you took the suitcase. We do not accept however your evidence that you only borrowed it.

“No reasonable person would behave like that and we find you guilty.”

Mould was given conditional bail to reappear before the court for sentencing on December 18. The bench ordered an all options pre-sentence report.