A PERSISTENT Barnsley thief has been locked up after stealing £1,000 worth of alcohol from a supermarket and using a child to help him commit his crimes.

Michael Cash's crimes were deemed "so serious" by a judge that only a custodial sentence could be justified, with the 34-year-old jailed for five months earlier this week.

Cash, of Nanny Marr Crescent, Darfield, pleaded guilty to two thefts and two counts of making off without payment from two restaurants in the Darfield and Wombwell areas of Barnsley.

On January 7, Cash stole £500 worth of spirits from a Tesco store and went on to steal the same amount of goods from the same store on January 10.

On both occasions, a 12-year-old child was seen putting the bottles of alcohol into baskets and bags for life, with Cash then walking out of the store without paying for any of the items.

On January 19, Cash walked out of a restaurant without paying the total bill of £190.85 and then committed the same crime on January 30 as he left a bill of £137.70 unpaid.

He was soon arrested and charged with the offences which he pleaded guilty to at Barnsley Magistrates' Court on February 7. He was jailed at the same court on yesterday.

PC Carla Wild, who was the officer in charge of the case, said: "Cash's offending was sophisticated, planned and prolific.

"A judge remarked how his crimes were entrenched in a pattern of dishonesty over a prolonged period and it's clear he paid no thoughts to the detrimental consequences of his actions on local businesses.

"He even used a child to help him steal bottles of alcohol from a local supermarket, setting a disgraceful example to our younger generations.

"I hope members of the local communities here in Barnsley will share our relief in knowing that Cash is behind bars and I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of theft or retail crime to report incidents to us so we can properly investigate."