A SERIAL shoplifter has avoided jail after pleading for a chance to "break the cycle" of his drug addiction.

Kenneth McCrae, from Beith, appeared from custody to be sentenced last week after admitting six charges - four of shoplifting and two of breaching conditions of bail.

The 42-year-old had previously admitted stealing alcohol from the Co-operative Food store on the town's Medine Avenue on September 18, September 26 and October 4.

He also confessed to stealing a quantity of razor blazes from the Tesco supermarket at Riverway in Irvine on November 29.

McCrae, of Mains Avenue, had been granted bail with a special condition attached following a previous court appearance on October 2.

That special condition required him to stay within his home between 7pm and 7am each day - but he admitted breaching it by being outside his home during the curfew hours on both October 9 and November 10.

McCrae had been remanded in custody until last week's hearing - and his solicitor, Sandy Currie, asked Sheriff Laura Mundell not to send his client back to jail.

Mr Currie said a social work background report suggested McCrae did not want to be subjected to any sort of drug treatment order.

In fact, Mr Currie said, his client would be in favour of a treatment order if he had realised it was an option - and that prison had not proved to have any effect on McCrae's behaviour.

Mr Currie added: “He was shocked there was an indication that he did not think that was appropriate.

“If he was given that opportunity, he would take it. He accepts he would need to work at it.

“Custody holds no fear for him – the cycle isn’t broken with that.”

Sheriff Mundell told McCrae: “You now have five cases before the court that I can sentence you for today. Various options are open to me.”

She added that one such option would be a custodial sentence of "up to a year".

However, the sheriff opted for a non-custodial disposal, placing McCrae on a community payback order (CPO) instead.

The order will see McCrae supervised by social workers for 12 months, while a conduct requirement to undergo drug treatment was also imposed.

In addition, McCrae was ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work by June of next year.

Sheriff Mundell warned: “If you breach any part of this condition, or commit any further offences, you would be sentenced to prison.”

The punishment was imposed in connection with the September shoplifting charges, with sentence on the remaining matters deferred for good behaviour.