A lead thief who was caught stealing from a school in Tolworth committed the offence in order to get sent to prison, a court has heard.

Carl Richardson, 33, was made homeless after being thrown out by his mother and had relapsed into a serious drug addiction when he was arrested on February 17 for stealing lead from Tolworth Girls’ School.

At his sentencing this week, Guildford Crown Court heard how he began committing offences at the age of 32, after breaking up with his long term partner and losing his job.

Michael Green, defending Richardson, said his client was a qualified electrician who had worked most of his life.

Mr Green said: “He has struggled for many years with a drug problem but by and large that’s a problem he’s been able to manage because he’s been in employment.

"Regrettably, we get to a point in 2012 and 2013 when he loses that work, his relationship came to an end and he relapsed.

“When he was arrested in February, he told the police: ‘My mum kicked me out. I’m homeless.

“'I’ve committed this offence to go to prison.’

“That is similar to what he has told me.”

The court heard how Richardson had 'responded well' to being in custody, where he has been since his arrest.

He has embarked on a number of educational courses while in prison, as well as a drug rehabilitation programme.

Richardson, of no fixed address, was sentenced to four months in prison by judge Neil Stewart on Thursday.

He was jailed for a further 10 months for his involvement in the theft of a mini digger from Claygate in April 2012.

Judge Stewart said: “When your relationship broke down your life unravelled.

“When you were arrested you said you were homeless and that your mother threw you out.

“You were using drugs and hoping to be taken into custody, which is where you have been since your arrest.

“You have done courses in that time and you accept there is no alternative but an immediate custodial sentence.”