A BEREAVED man recovering from a heroin addiction stole cosmetics from a Malvern shop a week after leaving prison - but was foiled by an off-duty police officer.

Stephen Rufini stole the items, worth £121.82, from Wilko in Edith Walk, Malvern but was stopped outside the store by a police officer who saw what he was doing.

The 57-year-old of Thorngrove Road, Malvern, admitted theft when he appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court on Wednesday following the incident on November 2 last year.

Dawn Foxall, prosecuting, said the off-duty officer observed Rufini placing the items into a green bag for life before leaving the shop without paying. Mrs Foxall said Rufini admitted the offence 'straight away' and was therefore 'de-arrested' before he attended the police station voluntarily.

"At the police station he made a full and frank admission to the offences," Mrs Foxall said.

She described the defendant as having 'numerous convictions for dishonesty'. However, she also said he had entered a timely guilty plea.

Sam Lamsdale, for Rufini, said he was currently prescribed methadone for 'a previous addiction to heroin' which he had suffered from for the last five or six years.

"He has come to that a little late in life. He has not taken any street drugs whatsoever since he was released from custody on October 25 last year."

He takes 40mg of methadone per day to help him kick his addiction to heroin. Although he had not taken any street drugs, Mrs Lamsdale said Rufini was concerned that if he encountered difficulties in life he 'may relapse' and that he would welcome any support. At the moment, because of the coronavirus crisis, this would come in the form of telephone support only Mrs Lamsdale said.

Rufini's father died two months ago and the defendant's brother has Asperger's Syndrome. Rufini has been staying at his brother's address in Stone Court, Colwall to support him, the solicitor told the court. Miss Lamsdale said: "He's helping his brother."

At the time of the theft Rufini had been 'sofa surfing' and was only given £45 after he was released from prison as a 'resettlement sum'. "That sum of money had been stolen from him. He ended up with no money for food" said Miss Lamsdale.

Since then he has made a claim for Universal Credit which can take many weeks to come through, she said. Rufini has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Magistrates made a community order for six months and imposed a drug rehabilitation requirement for six months. He is excluded from Wilko in Edith Walk. He was further ordered to pay a £100 contribution towards costs and a £90 victim surcharge.