NABBED: Neil Covington admitted to stealing groceries.
NABBED: Neil Covington admitted to stealing groceries. Ross Irby

Off-duty cop catches thief with trolley-load of groceries

A THIEF who wheeled a trolley loaded with $1200 of groceries impressed an Ipswich Magistrate with the amount of valuable goods he squeezed in. .

But Magistrate Tracy Mossop was far from impressed by his theft, or that he resisted an off-duty police officer who intervened.

Neil Derek Covington, 33, from Eastern Heights, pleaded guilty in Ipswich Magistrates Court to stealing from Coles supermarket at Silkstone on November 25 and obstructing a police officer.

Police prosecutor Constable Emma Ross said Covington and a female walked into the supermarket at noon and then down the aisles.

He later pushed the trolley to the flower section and the female asked a service attendant for some assistance.

During the distraction Covington pushed the trolley away but Coles staff identified him as not having paid for the goods and followed him.

Covington told staff his partner had paid at the self-service checkout and had the receipt.

Const Ross said an off-duty police officer out shopping heard what was happening and produced his police badge.

The police sergeant told him to return to the store and pay.

But Covington began to push the officer away, attempted to run and struggled with the officer.

"He later told police he thought he was getting rolled and that's why he left the trolley," she said.

Const Ross said the unpaid goods were worth $1189.60.

"How did he manage to fit all that in the trolley?" Ms Mossop said.

Asked if he had anything to say about his offending, Covington said he had four children and his girlfriend had two.

"I was just desperate. Unemployed, got kids to feed," he said.

Ms Mossop said he'd been fined $300 in November for an attempted stealing offence.

"I'm just stupid," Covington said.

Ms Mossop reminded him that the reality was that with all the CCTV in stores and staff keeping a watch out for offenders stealing, offenders were likely to be caught.

"I don't know how you managed to fit $1189 of groceries but it is no laughing matter," she said.

Covington was convicted and fined $1000. It was sent to SPER for a payment plan.

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