A thief who ‘doesn’t really remember’ robbing a Co-op staff member as he was so high has been given a chance to rid himself of his drug addiction for good.

Appearing before Oxford Crown Court on Friday, Paul Wyeth, 41, of White House Road, Oxford, admitted robbing the Walton Street store assistant of cash and shoving a young man at the store on June 17.

His barrister, Peter du Feu, said Wyeth had been doing ‘really very well’ after being released from a 40-month sentence imposed in 2018 for a robbery that saw him smash a claw hammer into the till at the Shell garage in Bicester’s London Road.

“[He] then fell off the waggon for personal reasons,” the lawyer said.

“He doesn’t really remember anything of the offence in the Co-op. When shown the video footage from the Co-op, he was hugely upset with himself.”

Mr du Feu said his client had taken steps since being remanded to HMP Bullingdon last month to address his long-standing issues with drugs.

He was engaging well with the prison’s drugs services, currently taking 60ml a day of class A drug substitute methadone and was ‘desperate to get that down’.

The barrister asked the judge to let Wyeth be assessed by addiction charity Turning Point to establish his suitability for a place at a residential drug rehab.

If assessed as suitable, he would have to spend several further months in prison to reduce his methadone intake before being transferred to rehab.

The gruelling scheme – set up several years ago in a partnership between Oxford Crown Court, the prison service and Turning Point – is usually imposed as part of a three-year community order, given to a defendant by the judge as a direct alternative to an immediate prison sentence.

Judge Ian Pringle QC told Mr du Feu: “This is not an easy route for him. But it might be life-changing.”

Bicester Advertiser: Paul Wyeth's 2018 custody shot Picture: TVPPaul Wyeth's 2018 custody shot Picture: TVP

Adjourning the case for Wyeth to be assessed by Turning Point, the judge added: “This is a pretty rare chance to go on a residential rehabilitation requirement.

“It means that if you manage to stay in prison, keep clear of drugs – and you will be tested and if you’re not clear of drugs you won’t be on the scheme – you will go somewhere else in the country, live there for anything up to 12 weeks or even more and, basically, turn your life around.

“If that’s something you’re willing to have a go at then I wish you all the best.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward