A CONVICTED thief with a prolific record of stealing from local shops is back in prison after a shoplifting spree.

Ashley Walmsley spent Christmas behind bars after admitting to multiple thefts in the run up to the festive period.

The 29-year-old was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and is back in jail after a 16-day thieving spree which saw him steal numerous products, including Easter eggs, fabric conditioner and pieces of meat.

PC Megan Leafe, who was the officer in charge of the case, said: "Walmsley hadn't long been out of prison when he committed further raids on stores in a devastating spree that has really impacted local businesses. He barged past shoppers in order to flee from stores with the stolen goods and targeted shops time and time again with no thought for the welfare of workers who shouldn't have to deal with thieves like Walmsley on their shifts."

He was charged with six thefts from Co-op, One Stop and B&M, but his offending also saw him admit fraud and theft from a motor vehicle. On March 3, Walmsley stole a woman's bank card from her car before going on a £300 spending spree at a number of stores, including Tesco which he had already been banned from.

PC Leafe said: "The victim in this case was a young woman who was horrified to discover items had been stolen from her car. Walmsley showed absolutely no regard for his victim as he plundered through her belongings before stealing her purse which had her bank card in it."

Walmsley, of Kirk View, Hoyland, was arrested earlier this month after CCTV enquiries and witness statements linked him to a series of thefts in Barnsley.

He pleaded guilty to six counts of theft from shops, one count of fraud by false representation and a count of theft from a motor vehicle at Barnsley Magistrates' Court last Thursday.

He was jailed for 23 weeks the same day.

PC Leafe added: "We won't tolerate shoplifting or theft of any kind in our local area, Walmsley was a menace to retail workers and managers and I hope the local community shares our relief in knowing he is behind bars once again."