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Manchester Evening News
November SSRI Editor, 2011
A man who stole 54 supermarket trolleys and stacked them neatly in his backyard has been slapped with a community service order.
Thomas Rainey was found to have a stash of shopping and milk trolleys worth £5,000 at his home in Stockport.
The retired council flagger, 52, denied he had taken the trolleys to sell them for scrap – claiming he used them to help his businesswoman ex-partner transfer goods from warehouses to her three shops.
And he blamed his hoarding behaviour on severe depression and diabetes, a court heard.
But prosecutor Rachel Pavion told Manchester magistrates that the crown took a different view. She said: “While there is no direct evidence, the inference is clear. Most of the trolleys are steel and aluminium and it’s the prosecution submission that he was going to take them to a scrap yard and get money for them.”
Ms Pavion said Rainey’s thieving spree came to light when he was caught on CCTV stealing a trolley from the yard of Tesco Express in Fallowfield and loading it into his van.
Rainey claimed that he had found the trolleys ‘lying about in the street’. He added: “You can pick them up anywhere.” Rainey could give no reason why he had accumulated so many trolleys in his home.
But Claire Parrot, defending, said he had been suffering with diabetes and depression for many years and it had got worse.
In court, Rainey told the bench that he believed a change in his medication had affected his behaviour. Mrs Parrot added: “I also think his health and mental problems have had some effect on his behaviour.
“His ex-partner had wanted him to get rid of the trolleys, but he never got round to it.
“And the press publicity has caused him great embarrassment and shame.”
Rainey, of Longford Road, North Reddish, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft and was sentenced to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work and pay £60 costs. Passing sentence, chairman Paul Welsh said it was ‘an unusual piece of behaviour’. He added: “It was a hoarding type of activity that you embarked on.
“These trolleys are valuable – about £100 each – and we take a serious view of what you did. We do accept there have been changes in your life, including your medication, which may account for your behaviour.”