One of Britain’s most prolific shoplifters, back behind bars, has spent 33 years in jail - “considerably more than a person for murder.”

This was stated by solicitor Roger Thomas at Llandudno court in North Wales when 62 years old David Archer was sent to prison for 26 weeks.

He had admitted having a lock knife in his pocket when arrested and thefts of spirits from Marks and Spencer at Prestatyn and the Co-op at Rhos on Sea.

Yesterday’s cases brought his record of offences to 396, mostly for thefts.

James Neary, prosecuting, said the value of the spirits was £178. 

Archer had told police he found the knife outside a doctor’s surgery and intended to take it to the police station.

“That’s fanciful and beyond belief,” declared Mr Neary.

Mr Thomas said the shoplifting of Archer, of Balmoral Grove, Rhyl, who was a sick man, was “pathetic” because he was so well known.

He had “a poacher’s coat with more pockets than you can imagine”. 

Eighteen years ago he was convicted of having an offensive weapon, a knife. However, it was not a pattern of offending and the lock knife had not been brandished.

“He’s a broken man, he’s completely institutionalised,” added the solicitor.

Archer was sent to prison for 26 weeks for the knife offence, with concurrent terms of four weeks for each of the shop thefts.

Hopes that a new relationship with a mum or having a dog would help him mend his ways have proved unfounded.