A “vulnerable” man stole a handbag containing a £250 designer watch from a car in Worksop, but threw it away because he thought it was empty, a court has heard.
CCTV captured Keith Coward taking the handbag from a Ford Fiesta, in the car park of the Priory Centre, on August 6, and making off along Chesterfield canal.
But when officers caught up with him, he told them he thought the bag was empty, and he had thrown it away.
Its owner said the bag contained the watch, a driving licence, and spare change, said prosecutor Neil Hollett. A search was made, but none of the items were recovered.
“Mr Coward’s friend told him the owner of the car owed him a debt,” said Mr Hollett. “And asked him to recover some of the debt by taking the handbag.
“He was unable to identify the friend. He admitted it was a bit odd. He said the bag only contained hair clips and he threw it away.”
Coward, 34, now of Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, admitted theft when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Monday.
The theft took place four days after he received a suspended sentence for assault and theft, the court heard.
Fiona Davidson, mitigating, said: “He is quite vulnerable and certain people prey upon this vulnerability. He accepts full responsibility.
“In my submission the person who suggested the offence to him should be here as well.
“It is conceivable that when he threw the bag over the fence these items fell out.”
She said Coward had been homeless and addicted to drugs at the time of the offence, but he had since made “significant” improvements.
He was now in a residential drug rehab unit, run by Christians, she said, and he had “found his niche” as a gardener.
“It is the only form of stability he has known for a very long time,” Ms Davidson said.
“I would urge you to take the view that it would be unjust to impose a period of imnprisonment.
“There is a way forward now as opposed to the rut he was in.”
Magistrates deferred sentence for six months, on condition he remains in the rehab unit, complies with their orders and stays offence free.
Coward was ordered to return to court on April 9, 2018.