Reformed drug addict who found God guilty of crimes

Worthing County Court

Worthing County Court

A former drug addict who found God has been told the ‘future is in his hands’ after pleading guilty to a string of crimes.

James Jackson, from Chichester, appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Monday, January 30.

The 29-year-old was charged with several offences that took place from June to October last year, including shoplifting, breaching a restraining order, assault and drug driving.

The court heard that at around 1am on June 10, Jackson was arrested for drug driving in Teville Road, Worthing. He was ten times over the limit of cocaine.

On July 21 last year, Jackson was arrested for stealing a shirt and a pair of jeans from Marks and Spencer in East Street, Chichester. Solicitor Richard Frank said Jackson stole the clothes after meeting his ex-partner about seeing his children, when she ‘made a comment about him looking like a tramp’.

On September 15, Jackson breached a restraining order preventing him from seeing his ex-partner when a random encounter in East Street led to an argument about seeing the children.

The court also heard how the assault occurred on October 10 at a One Stop in Bognor Regis. Jackson grabbed his victim by the throat and punched him in the back of the head before the police were called. Jackson had known the victim for six months.

Prosecutor Gaynor Byng read a statement the victim gave to police, which said he was ‘concerned [Jackson] will hurt me again because he said he knows where I live’.

These offences also breached a suspended prison sentence for previous thefts.

In his client’s defence, Mr Frank told the court that Jackson, a former drug addict, had turned his life around last summer after admitting himself into rehab and going to church.

He rents the top flat of St Pancras Church in the city centre after gaining the trust of church leaders, and is a barman at a leisure centre.

Mr Frank said Jackson was ‘engaged in the church in a meaningful way’, helping the homeless and people with drug and alcohol issues.

The church and its parishoners wrote character references for Jackson which were used by Mr Frank as part of his defence.

For his crimes, Jackson was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 40 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £485.

Chairman of the bench Gavin Oclee-Brown said the church’s character references had been taken into account, but warned: “We have been misled by this before; I hope it isn’t the case today.”

He added: “The future is in your hands.”

Jackson replied by saying: “I won’t be back again sir.”

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