A 'PROFESSIONAL criminal' caught with a machete who gambled with his freedom after being handed a lifeline at court has been locked up.

Drug user Jason Stanmore avoided immediate jail terms on two occasions after falling into crime to fund his habit.

But the 30-year-old flouted court orders intended to help him break free from his addiction, thieving from shops just three days after promising to abide by it.

Sentencing at Oxford Crown Court, Judge Peter Ross demanded to know why Stanmore had been 'foolish' and 'flirted' with drugs after vowing to turn his life around.

Jailing him for 18 months last Friday, he added: "You have been in the grip of a drug addiction for some time and it was for that reason I thought the opportunity should be taken to help you get off drugs. You told me, and they were your own words, that you really wanted to do it.

"You were obviously stealing to fuel [the drugs habit] and in that sense you were acting as a professional criminal - you were living off crime.

"I regret having given you the chance because it has meant that others have become victims. Whether you chose to stay away from crime will be a matter for you but you can only be sure of this - that if you continue to offend in this way, the sentences, for what some may regard as low-level offences, will get longer and longer."

Defence barrister Amiee Parkes said Stanmore was bailed to his mother's address after his sentencing for possessing the machete was deferred at a hearing last October.

But the defendant, who has 19 convictions for 42 offences, could not stay there and decided there was 'no point' in complying with the rest of the court order, she continued.

Prosecutor Robert Lindsey told the court Stanmore was charged with further offences after police discovered him with the machete on March 20 last year.

He strolled into Old Marston Road's Co-op store, pinching about £100 of meat just after 4pm on November 23 last year.

The convict then trailed to Sainsbury's, in Cowley Road, snatching seven boxes of wine with six bottles inside each, worth £105, just before 7.30pm on the same day.

Stanmore, of Shepherds Hill, Greater Leys, Oxford, targeted the East Oxford store again the next day, thieving six bottles of Jack Daniels worth £60 at about 9.15am.

The thief was spotted at Abingdon Police Station removing drugs from his lower back area and hiding it in his fist, after his arrest on December 12.

He revealed to interviewing officers a three prong bread fork found hidden under his clothing on November 10 belonged to his mother, but he had planned to pawn it.

Stanmore, who must pay a victim surcharge, admitted possession of a bladed article, three counts of theft, possession of a pointed article and possession of MDMA, a class A drug.