Some of the clothing he stole from Trago Mills was being worn by the thief when a store detective caught up with him outside the shop.

Jodi Childs, aged 33, of Killigrew Street, Falmouth, pleaded guilty at Truro Magistrates’ Court to stealing clothing worth £30. He had previous convictions.

His solicitor, John Evans, said he was an unworldly sort of person as his mother had always done everything for him. When he moved to Cornwall he did not know how to go about applying for benefit. A lot of his time was spent walking around the town and he found it cold at night, which was why he stole clothing for himself.

Mr Evans said a local minister had taken him under his wing, paying more than £600 for him in advanced rent so he had somewhere to live, and helping him with his benefit claims.

Childs had been terrified to learn that he owed Trago Mills £90 in their claim for damages against him, coupled with their threat that this would almost double if not paid within 14 days, and if not by then, would be followed by court action. This had hindered his repayment to the minister.

Childs was given a conditional discharge for a year and told to pay £15 victim surcharge.