A BURNHAM man who stole more than £8,000 worth of cigarettes from a supermarket as staff were opening up has been sentenced for the crime.

Nicholas Ronald Davis appeared at Taunton Crown Court on Friday (August 16) having previously pleaded guilty to burglary.

The court heard that Davis, along with an unknown accomplice, had broken into a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Street in the early hours of the morning and filled his car with 800 packets of cigarettes.

Davis is formerly of Weston Road in Burnham-on-Sea, but had been detained in custody at HMP Exeter since the incident.

Patrick Mason, prosecuting, said: “He has a very substantial criminal record, including numerous offences of burglary, and has appeared in court on 11 occasions.

“The supermarket was in the process of opening up when at 5am, and the main doors to the premises had been opened to allow staff in.

“Davis turned up in the car park in a BMW and he burgled the store by walking in and breaking into the cigarette kiosk.

“Staff saw a white male on CCTV and he walked in and out of the store on three occasions, taking a black delivery box with him.”

His accomplice, a woman, was never identified and Davis says he doesn’t know her.

Mr Mason added: ““He took a very large number of cigarettes, £8,100 in total.

“He took 800 packets of cigarettes, and they were packs of 20, so 16,000 cigarettes.”

The kiosk, which would normally take £9,000 in a day, had to close for 24 hours causing further loss to the company.

A further £200 of repairs was also needed for the shutters.

“CCTV was circulated among local police officers and Davis was very quickly identified,” said Mr Mason.

“His document of previous convictions goes onto 19 pages, including burglary in 2014, theft in 2016, producing cannabis in 2017, driving matters in 2018, and handling stolen goods in 2018.

“He was on licence for that when he committed this offence.

“He is a career burglar. He has many offences linked with a long stand drug problem.”

Sainsbury’s suffered a total loss of £17,000.

Lucy Taylor, mitigating, said: “Davis pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity at magistrates court.

“He has been in custody for nine weeks.

“Davis went off the rails somewhat after separating from his wife.

“He has a daughter and three grandchildren, and seeing them is a significant motivating factor for him.”

The court heard that Davis was under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol at the time of the offence.

Miss Taylor added: “It was opportunistic. That is the view shared by the probation.

“In his mind he hadn’t gone there with the intention of stealing anything.

“As soon as he had done that he felt a great deal of remorse and disgust.

“He knew he had let himself and his family down.”

The court heard that Davis has been mostly clean for 14 years, but admits he would lapse and have periods of binging.

“He is already doing work in prison to identify his triggers for offending and drug taking when he has a difficult period in his life,” said Miss Taylor.

“He is a decency worker in prison, responsible for highlighting vulnerable prisoners.

“That is not a position inmates are given lightly.”

Despite pleas for a suspended sentence and community orders, Judge Paul Cook said that he did not feel he could release Davis from custody at this time.

Judge Cook said: “I give you full credit for your guilty plea. I bare in mind your position of responsibility in prison, and your genuine remorse.”

Davis was sentenced to eight months in prison. He will be serve half before being released on licence.

He must also pay a victim surcharge of £140.