A PROLIFIC criminal who targeted Winchester businesses has been jailed for over 14 months after he attempted to steal a charity tin.

Christopher Taylor walked into NatWest in Winchester High Street on August 18 and asked to withdraw some money.

He did not have sufficient details or any identification and was refused by the bank teller, Winchester Crown Court was told on Friday.

On exiting the branch, Taylor, of Hyde Gate, was seen by the member of staff to play with the cord of a charity box belonging to Winchester Youth Counselling Services.

Prosecutor Beverley Cherrill said: “He then produced some scissors - she then saw him attempt to cut the cord.”

The 34-year-old left the bank, but while on her break the teller saw Taylor walking into Holland and Barratt and informed a police officer. Another member of public had also reported Taylor.

Ms Cherrill said that Taylor claimed he had “innocent reasons” for having the scissors including as a gift for his girlfriend, adding: “He gave various accounts of how he came to have the scissors including he bought them from the shop to being given them”.

Taylor, who suffers from schizophrenia, appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates Court last month when he pleaded guilty to going equipped for theft and attempted theft.

In May, Taylor was handed a 17-month suspended sentence order for five burglaries on Hillier Garden Centre, Winchester Garden Machinery, Stagecoach and EE, along with theft, common assault and assault on an emergency worker.

During the hearing on Friday, the judge Recorder Louise Harvey imposed the suspended sentence but reduced it to 14 months. She also jailed Taylor for a further 14 days for the August offences.

In mitigation, Graham Gilbert said that Taylor was subject of a drug rehabilitation programme. He continued: “Mr Taylor’s suggestion that for someone with an entrenched drug habit he was doing well.”

Mr Gilbert added: “He was engaging with the order and on his own account was finding it of use, however he then had an argument with his partner which resulted in the police attending and his remand overnight.

“He thought he had wasted the work he was doing over the previous months, so he went out got drunk and got drugs.”

No action was taken against Taylor for his argument with his partner.