POLICE were alerted after Blackburn town centre CCTV picked up a man wearing a bright green jacket carrying a paving slab.

Blackburn magistrates heard a camera operator watched Stephen Mowles used the slab to break the side door of the Marks and Spencer store.

He stole seven bottles of port and 14 steaks before leaving the store but he was tracked by the cameras and police were directed to a taxi office where they arrested Mowles.

Mowles, 44, of Snowden Avenue, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to burglary and theft of property worth £126 and possession of a lock-knife in a public place. He was sent on bail to Preston Crown Court to be sentenced.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said when Mowles was arrested in the taxi office he had the port and steaks in a rucksack and the lock-knife in his pocket.

Mrs Yates said Mowles claimed he had the knife because he had been fitting some carpets at home. She said he had five previous convictions for possessing a bladed article in public.

Ben Leech, defending, said his client was deeply ashamed of what he had done because it represented a dramatic downturn in his life after years of taking "positive steps."

Mr Leech said Mowles had been addicted to heroin but with the help of various agencies had got clean. He worked as a volunteer and was eventually offered a paid job with the Thomas Project.

"He was supporting other drug users and was immensely proud of what he had achieved," said Mr Leech. "His family, and especially his mother, were also proud of what he had done."

Mr Leech said as a counsellor Mowles was helping a family member with their own drug problems when that person died.

"It hit him hard but he kidded himself that he was dealing with it quite well," said Mr Leech. "He started to take anti-depressants to get him through a difficult period and didn't realise he had started to drink more heavily, leading to an addiction."

Mr Leech said that led to the loss of his employment and the support network he had around him.

"He became depressed and six weeks ago he used heroin again," said Mr Leech. "He admitted he would have drunk the port and sold the steaks to by drugs."