Magistrate's criticism of benefit system

PUBLISHED: 14:33 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 11:53 04 May 2010

MAGISTRATES have slammed the benefit system for leaving Littleport man Robert Busby without payments for more than two months. Busby was destitute and hungry when he stole a basket of groceries from a supermarket — and had eaten the evidence by the time t

MAGISTRATES have slammed the benefit system for leaving Littleport man Robert Busby without payments for more than two months.

Busby was destitute and hungry when he stole a basket of groceries from a supermarket - and had eaten the evidence by the time the police arrived at his home.

He went to the Co-op in Littleport with the intention of stealing food, and he picked up a basket containing chicken breast, cheese

and yoghurts.

"He finds himself in an untenable situation, lack of money is a real issue for Robert Busby and his partner," said solicitor Jacqui Baldwin.

"The Department of Work and Pensions stopped their benefit on April 25, so there has been no income for this family. His mother has tried to assist, but she is on a pension.

Asking the court to jail Busby, she warned: "If he was to be released he might commit further offences of theft, the theft occurred because his family was hungry."

Busby, 37, of Wisbech Road, Littleport, had also admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance on May 8 and May 10. On the first occasion he had driven his partner to Ely Police Station, and a police officer spotted him behind the wheel of a white Vauxhall Astra.

"He had no money for the bus and a friend offered him a car, so stupidly he borrowed it," explained Miss Baldwin. She said he had been depressed because of withdrawal from long-term drug use.

Jailing Busby for two months, presiding magistrate Susan Thompson told him: "We do sympathise with the predicament you and your partner are in, and hope the Department of Work and Pensions will sort it out, it is disgraceful they have left you with no money.

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