A THIEF who stole more than £140 worth of booze from three Inverclyde stores has been placed under social work supervision after his lawyer told a court he is 'crying out for support'.

Craig Murphy was convicted of four theft offences after stealing fuel, to the value of £8.54, from the BP filling station in Branchton, as well as alcohol from Co-op shops in Wemyss Bay, Gourock and Kilmacolm.

Murphy, 49, lifted drink worth £57.50 from the Wemyss Bay shop on September 23 and stole booze worth £46 from the Gourock branch the following day.

He also took a quantity of alcohol worth £40 from Kilmacolm's Co-op on April 22.

Defence solicitor Ellen Macdonald told a sentencing hearing at Greenock Sheriff Court that Murphy, of Main Street in Inverkip, 'has been out of trouble for quite a period of time' but relapsed after more than a decade of abstinence.

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Ms Macdonald said: "He is crying out for support or assistance.

"He has been stable on methadone but has been introduced to crack cocaine and is effectively stealing to feed the habit."

The court heard that Murphy has other, unrelated matters calling in January.

Murphy, who was subject to a bail order at the time of the offences and was cleared of two further similar charges, was placed under the supervision of social workers for 12 months and a review hearing has been scheduled for February 28 next year.

Sheriff James Varney said: "It has been some time since your last offending but these offences are simply unacceptable.

"I am not sure how this period of supervision will go but I will give you the benefit of the doubt to demonstrate to the court that you are willing to comply."