A homeless man has been sentenced to an extra 70 days in prison today after being caught stealing wooden panels.
35-year-old George Mackenzie is already serving a 15-month jail sentence for fraud, theft and driving while disqualified, with 11 previous convictions for 32 offences.
He was arrested when a member of the public alerted police after spotting him loading the panels into a Ford Transit van on a Rickmansworth building site on Friday, June 18 last year.
Prosecutor Victoria Lovett told St Albans Crown Court: “The police were called and when they arrived the defendant said: ‘A mate told me it was here. There was a free wood sign’.”
However, she said, police could not find such a sign following a search of the area. Upon searching Mackenzie, they found a knife.
He appeared for sentencing, having already been convicted in his absence on the charges of possessing a knife, admitting to theft and two bail offences.
Representing himself, told the judge: “I was told to go and collect the timber by my boss. I work as a tree surgeon. That was the reason for the knife in my pocket – it is a pruning knife. I offered it to the officers before they searched me.”
McKenzie, originally from Hemel Hempstead but currently of no fixed abode, said that at the time of the arrest he was on drugs and homeless, but he had improved since being in custody.
Judge Richard Foster sentenced the extra 70 days on top of his current 15-month sentence. He also stated the recovered knife should be forfeited and subsequently destroyed.