Homeless man rummaging for clothes behind Norbury charity shop shed arrested and DNA linked to leisure centre burglary

A homeless man has been convicted of burglary for stealing clothes from a charity shop shed during lockdown.

Silas Blythin, 30, of Clapham South, told police ‘I’m homeless and needed clothes’ when they arrested him for burglary on 6 May.

A DNA test at the station linked him to a more serious burglary of Thornton Heath Leisure Centre on 29 April, Croydon Magistrates Court heard.

Prosecutor Colette Hanna said: ‘Police were called to male at the back of Cancer Research, Norbury.

‘They found the defendant in an outside storage shed containing bags of donated clothes, witnesses told police they had seen him go in the back. 

‘“I’m homeless and needed clothes”, he told police, he was duly arrested and further arrested for blood DNA linking him to a burglary on 29 April, 

Blythin admitted the theft of a Dewalt drill, two ipads, five ipods, £180 in leisure vouchers and approximately £103 of notes and change in a draw in office from the Thornton Heath Leisure Centre.

Blythin appeared in court via video link to Croydon Police Station where police had brought their laptop which they held to the window of his cell.

Less than a week ago, on May 2, he had received a community order for another burglary offence, the court heard.

Nick Robinshaw, defending, said: ‘It’s not been an easy pre-court conference because he’s displayed symptoms so the police won’t take him out to the court and I had to communicate through the intercom, which was not ideal but I think it’s a guilty plea today.

‘The defendant accepts he had a bit of a wobble through the back end of last week, he was dealt with on Saturday with a stand alone curfew order. 

‘It is a charity shop he accepts not his to take but they’re in a yard, he was taking some for himself so he had something else to wear – which he is wearing now in the police station.

‘He accepts he shouldn’t have been in there but the purpose was to clothe himself, charity shops are all closed so people like Mr Blythin are in a slightly desperate situation.’

Blythin was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and warned he would be sent to prison for any further offences.

He was ordered to pay £300 compensation to Thorton Heath Leisure Centre.

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