A THIEF who stole pizza and wine, with 25 previous theft offences on his record, was not punished because he is joining the army.

Jason Burrows pleaded guilty to one count of theft at Salisbury Magistrates Court on Friday.

Prosecuting, Kate Prince said the manager of the Co-Op on Wilton Road had spotted Burrows "crouched down in the cheese section".

The staff member went to a backroom to watch him on CCTV and saw Burrows putting two pizzas into his bag.

He left without attempting to pay for them, but she chased him and he stopped and returned the goods.

He also had a bottle of stolen wine in his bag.

When interviewed by police Burrows said he was "starving, and had no money until the following Tuesday".

The court heard that Burrows has 25 previous theft offences against him and was on licence for a previous crime when he stole the pizzas and wine.

Defending, Paul Jones said Burrows was sentenced to prison last year for "far more serious matters" and he "struggled since coming out".

Mr Jones said Burrows had found it difficult to cope and "on the day in question he was simply starving".

"It wasn't sophisticated", Mr Jones said.

He said Burrows would "take umbrage" at being given a curfew by the court, as the offence was carried out during the day.

Mr Jones also said Burrows had been successful in applying to join the army, but a curfew would prevent him from going to bootcamp sessions to improve his fitness.

He also said the army application was what had stopped the probation service from recommending sending Burrows back to prison for breaking his licence.

A probation worker said Burrows had received a "final warning" and would be called back to prison if he committed another crime.

Magistrate Elaine Stallard said: "We are very pleased that you have been offered a place in the army, and we don't want to jeopardise that."

She gave Burrows a six month conditional discharge, and ordered him to pay a £20 victim surcharge.