A SHOPLIFTER who attacked members of staff who tried to stop him from leaving stores with chocolate in his pockets has been jailed.

Thief Joshua Crichton spat at and punched his victims as part of a spree of offences committed in Bournemouth.

Last week, he appeared at Poole Magistrates' Court for sentence after he was found guilty of four counts of theft from a shop, four of assault by beating, two of failing to surrender and one of using racially aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause another person harassment, alarm or distress.

The 29-year-old was jailed for 20 weeks for the offences.

The court heard his first attack was launched at the Co-op in Holdenhurst Road at 4.35pm on Thursday, May 16.

Crichton walked into the store and took two chocolate bars. When challenged by a staff member, he spat directly at them before leaving.

He returned to the store days later on Sunday, May 19.

A different member of staff recognised him and followed him around the shop.

The man then stood and watched as Crichton fiddled with his bike outside the store. The defendant lost his temper, and walked up to the victim before pushing him with both hands, spitting in his face and punching him.

As the victim turned to walk back into the shop, Crichton punched him in the back of the head.

Around 15 minutes later, Crichton walked into the Co-op store in Madeira Road and put a number of chocolate bars into a carrier bag.

He was spotted by a staff member who approached him and asked him to hand over the food.

As Crichton left the shop he shouted racially aggravated abuse to a member of staff who was stood behind the till.

Police arrested Crichton, of no fixed abode, on May 25.

Investigations officer Max Surman, of Bournemouth CID, said: “These were unpleasant assaults on members of staff who were just doing their jobs.

“We will do everything we can to identify offenders and bring them before the court.”