A MAN stole hundreds of pounds worth of books from Scarborough Library so he could sell them and buy alcohol, a court heard.
Gareth Hamlet, 23, of Queen Street, was seen acting suspiciously in the children’s section of the library, in Vernon Road, on October 28.
He then placed 44 books, with a estimated value of £310, into a large carrier bag and left.
Hamlet, who has four children, was with his family when he committed the offence. The police later found Hamlet entering his home with the books still in his possession.
Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting, told Scarborough Magistrates’ Court: “The defendant told police he has been in Scarborough for two months and has been a member of the library.
“He said he goes to the library two to three times a week. He admits he had gone there and decided to go to get the books to sell to a mate who had a book shop.”
Hamlet also had 28 books out on his library card. When police searched his home they found no trace of the outstanding books, but he told police they were at his mother’s.
Hamlet, who represented himself at the hearing, said he was ashamed of his actions.
He added: “I can’t excuse what I did. I did it for stupid reasons. I do regret it but I can’t go back and change it.
“I want to apologise to the library and if I could apologise face to face I would.”
Hamlet admitted to magistrates that he had a “disgusting” criminal record but said he had moved to Scarborough in an attempt to turn his life around.
“I try to stay out of trouble but I do slip up,” he said.
Although he had not been drunk when he stole the library books, the probation service said they believed Hamlet would have used the proceeds of the theft to buy alcohol.
Magistrates sentenced Hamlet to a community order, with the requirement that he carries out 80 hours of unpaid work, supervision and a 10-day ‘stop binge drinking’ programme.
Costs of £85 were ordered although no compensation will be paid due to the books being recovered.
Following the case, Colin Langford, acting chairman of the Friends of Scarborough Library, said: “I’m always amazed at things like this. The library is a public, community facility.”