A PROLIFIC criminal from Amesbury who had never been to prison despite a record including more than 23 previous convictions, has been jailed for ten months.

Gary Challoner, 42, has been convicted of a range of offences, including fraud, theft and drugs offences, over the last 15 years.

He was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court on Thursday for an offence under the vagrancy act, handling stolen goods and failure to answer bail.

Challoner was found lying on the ground at a building site in Seymour Gardens, Amesbury, just before midnight on July 16 last year.

When approached, he told police officers he had been drinking and wanted somewhere to sleep. He said he had also been fishing, which was why he was carrying a small knife. Officers later found Challoner’s fingerprints on building materials which had been moved.

He was also found to be carrying a stolen mobile phone. Challoner then failed to appear in court in January 30 as the date “slipped his mind”.

At the time of the offences, he was subject to a one-year suspended prison sentence, which he was handed for stealing money from Pritchett’s the Butcher in Salisbury, where he used to work.

The court heard Challoner stopped offending in 2001, but started again in 2010 following the breakdown of his marriage.

Recorder Nigel Lickley said: “Today is the day, Mr Challoner, when you will go to prison. It will give you time to reflect on the past and, more importantly, the future so you can stop offending in this way that you have and being in trouble in court as a consequence.”

Challoner, of Maple Way, was jailed for ten months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £100.