A HAPLESS thief turned up for a court case wearing a £125 jacket he was accused of stealing.

Stephen Kirkbride was ordered to surrender the coat after witnesses recognised it as the one he had stolen from Kendal’s Sports Direct shop in Sandes Avenue.

Store staff, who had been called to give evidence for the prosecution, said they could not believe their eyes when they saw the designer Craghopper waterproof the 46-year-old had left on a chair at South Lakeland Magistrates’ Court, Kendal.

Kirkbride’s defence solicitor Judith Birkett argued her client ‘wouldn’t be so stupid’ as to turn up in stolen goods, but Kendal magistrate Jenny Farmer found him guilty of shoplifting, dismissing his excuses as ‘completely implausible’.

Store manager Deborah Robson said: “I pointed the jacket out to the police officer and he seized it straight away.”

Kirkbride, of no fixed address, told the court that he had picked up the expensive coat – which had large tear marks where security tags had been cut out – from a charity shop.

“It was damaged but I thought it was a bargain,” he said.

Kendal police constable Jose da Silve Neto had already confiscated the two-part coat’s inner fleece from Kirkbride’s previous address at Town View Fields, Kendal, after CCTV footage showed the defendant taking the jacket from Sports Direct on February 3.

However, police had not been able to find the gortex outer layer until the defendant wore it to court.

Kirkbride said he had picked up his courtroom attire ‘from a friend’s house’, although he refused to reveal the person’s identity.

Crown prosecutor David Duke said: “You’re making this up as you go along, aren’t you?”.

Magistrates found Kirkbride guilty of theft. The hearing was adjourned until July 11for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Kirkbride was remanded on unconditional bail.