A SERIAL thief who took his mother's rental car while over the drug-drive limit has been given a "last chance".

Neil Sharp, of Kingsway House in Wilton, had no explanation for why he took his mother's Seat Arona, hired from Europcar, from Wilton on January 26, 2023.

See also: Why do local newspapers report on court cases? What can they publish?

Police were called after the car was found on Bridge Street and Sharp was found in the driver's seat. When tested for drugs, he was over the limit for cocaine.

Just under one month later, at 3am on February 23, Sharp was driving along Ashley Road with three other people in his Audi A3 when police pulled him over for a routine check.

Sharp was known to police as a drug user and when tested officers found 18 microgrammes of cocaine and 800mcg of Benzolecgonine, the break-down of cocaine, per litre of his blood. This is 17 times the legal limit of 50 mcg/l.

Read more: ​Five arrested for drugs and money laundering in St Peter's Place

Before this, Sharp committed a string of shoplifting offences in convenience stores across Salisbury.

On December 26, 2022, he stole various items to the value of £75.18 from Spar, then on December 28 he took bottles of spirits valued £100 from Co-Op. Three days later he stole another £100's worth of drink.

Sharp carried on going back to the Co-Op the following month and stole spirits valued £50, £150 and £50.

Later that year he began stealing from Amesbury Co-Op instead. On May 25 he took scratch cards valued £30 before stealing £97.54 worth of scratch cards and tobacco from Budgens Store in Codford on July 2.

Sharp is a single father of two teenagers who uses crack cocaine daily, according to his probation officer, and he is concerned about his family’s long history of Huntington’s disease.

Salisbury Magistrates Court heard on February 29 how Sharp had been shoplifting to fuel his drug addiction and his only contact with his children is over the telephone.

Kate Prince, prosecuting, said Sharp had a "long history of offending" with 25 previous theft offences.

Sharp was not able to provide an explanation for why he took his mother’s hire car without her permission and told the probation service he was homeless.

He had not been attending unpaid work appointments and told the probation service he had missed them because he did not receive text message or postal reminders. Catherine Spicer, from the probation service, said it was up to Sharp to give the service up to date contact information.

Mr Redhead, mitigating, said: “I think the best I can do is suggest you give Mr Sharp the opportunity of trying to address these issues relating to drugs. You would not just be sentencing you would be giving him an opportunity to get the help he needs.”

The court heard how Sharp had racked up £5,737 in outstanding court fines, £3,610 of which were motoring fines he was sentenced to in his absence prior to 2020.

Magistrate Mr Foster, chairing the bench, told Sharp: “You have a long list of offences. Inevitably given all that we have considered the option of sending you to prison, this can’t go on forever.

“You are keen to sort your life out particularly your drug problem. You need to be very aware that this can’t go on forever. Your history of dealing with community orders has not been great and this is your last chance.”

Sharp pleaded guilty to all of the charges and admitted the community order breach.

Magistrates revoked and resentenced his 18-month community order with new requirements to complete 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days, a six-month drug rehabilitation course and 12 mental health days.

For the driving offences, Sharp was disqualified from holding a licence for a total of 28 months.

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £70.18 to Spar, £450 and £30 to Co-Op as well as £97.54 to Budgens.

The court wiped £3,610 of Sharp's outstanding court fines upon sentencing him.