A criminal who begged a court to be sent to prison because he was BORED of living in the countryside was unmasked by police today.
Lee Price was so desperate to escape the historic market town of Church Stretton in the picturesque Shropshire hills that he dialled 999 pleading to be sent to jail.
But when the 30-year-old was told he could not be arrested without committing a crime, he decided to go on a shoplifting spree in nearby Shrewsbury.
A court heard Price followed a security guard around a Waitrose supermarket “blatantly” pocketing £128 worth of goods until he was arrested last Saturday.
The crook then spent the weekend in the cells before being hauled before Telford Magistrates Court on Monday morning.
JPs heard Price was placed in a half-way house in Church Stretton after he was released from prison at the end of last year.
But he deliberately got himself arrested because he was fed up of living in the “middle of nowhere” and the quaint town was an “alien environment” to him.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of shoplifting and was jailed for 12 weeks.
Dean Easthope, defending, said Price was “bored” of living in the remote town and could no longer cope with being isolated in the countryside.
He added: “It’s a sad case that this gentleman feels that this is his best course of action.
“His motivation for committing this offence was purely that he couldn’t cope in the community any more.
“When he came out of prison he was housed in Stonham, Abbey Foregate.
“Then he obtained privately rented accommodation but when his landlady found out about his previous convictions she changed the locks and he was immediately homeless.
“He’s a Shrewsbury lad. All his friends and family live in Shrewsbury. Everything he knows is in Shrewsbury.
“The closest he could be housed at such short notice was in Church Stretton.
“He was put into the middle of nowhere he tells me he lives in the hills in a totally alien environment.
“He’s been addicted to drugs most of his life and has a methadone script and life has become intolerable for him.
“He rang up the police and said he wanted to be locked up.
“The sergeant quite helpfully told him we can’t lock you up unless you’ve committed a crime.
“He can only see a prison cell as being his respite for the next couple of weeks.”
Prosecutor Sara Beddow, also told the court Price had told police: “I got caught on purpose. I need to go back to prison.”
The court heard Price, whose address was given as Oakbank Motel in Church Stretton, had also breached a conditional discharge for shoplifting from September 2013.
But JPs only gave him a further 12 weeks in jail to run concurrently for that offence – meaning the petty criminal is likely to be released on licence in just six weeks.
* Church Stretton is an historic market town situated in the heart of the South Shropshire hills on the English/Welsh border.
It is the only town in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is renowned worldwide for its geology, with some of the oldest rock formations in existence.
The town – which has a population of just 4,671 – is popular with walkers and is situated 13 miles (21 km) south of Shrewsbury and 15 miles (24 km) north of Ludlow.
Its picturesque surrounding have inspired may writers and have featured prominently in the books of Malcolm Saville, Mary Webb and A E Housman.