A prolific shoplifter with 62 previous offences has been given one final opportunity to turn his life around by a judge after his most recent crime spree.

George McPherson, 35, of St Mary’s Crescent, Basildon, appeared at Basildon Crown Court via videolink to be sentenced for thefts totalling £2,060 earlier this year.

Those four offences are just the latest in McPherson’s long criminal career which stretches back to the Eighties. The first of the latest series of offences was the theft of £450 worth of razors from a Boots store in Basildon on June 11. Later that same day, McPherson targeted a supermarket in Basildon where he was able to steal £60 worth of alcohol while staff were distracted.

In July, McPherson targeted TK Maxx in Basildon on two separate occasions and was able to steal handbags worth a total of £1,550.

Police officers identified him from various CCTV images and he was arrested as part of a police crackdown on prolific shoplifters in Basildon.

He pleaded guilty to all four offences on September 15 but the matter was adjourned so he could be interviewed by the probation service.

The court heard how McPherson had used his time in prison positively by completing group sessions in drug awareness and that he is keen to continue making progress when he is released.

Sentencing McPherson, Judge David Pugh said: “When you appeared before me previously, I adjourned the matter to order a pre-sentence report. I did so because you made it clear that you wanted an opportunity to change your lifestyle. I am going to give you that opportunity. I’ve taken into account that you pleaded guilty but more importantly, I’ve taken into account your eagerness to change your life around.”

McPherson was sentenced to an 18-month community order with requirements to complete drug rehabilitation activities. Judge Pugh added: “I do hope you will take this opportunity Mr McPherson. It is something that I would like to hope will enable you to make this change.”

McPherson, who wishes to move to Kent for a fresh start, thanked the judge and was due to be released from prison yesterday.