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Britain's most prolific shoplifter Robert Knowles convicted of 330th offence Plymouth Crown Court

Serial thief Robert Knowles, 66, first broke the law aged just 13 - and his criminal career stretched over the next seven decades.

Serial thief Robert Knowles first appeared in court in 1959 (SWNS)Britain's most prolific shoplifter - who has appeared in court every year since 1959 - was convicted of his 330th offence today.

Serial thief Robert Knowles, 66, first broke the law aged just 13 - and his criminal career stretched over the next seven decades.

He was sent to correctional school in 1959 and has been back in court charged with theft every year since - chalking up 183 appearances in the dock in 54 years.

Knowles has now been handed another prison sentence after swiping two bottles of wine and three tins of fish worth a combined at £14.15 from a Tesco Metro.

Judge Paul Darlow jailed the alcoholic for 123 days at Plymouth Crown Court - but having spent 61 days in custody he was immediately released.

Homeless Knowles, of Plymouth, Devon, will remain on probation and will receive help from social services.

The Crown Prosecution Service said afterwards it was unable to provide a full breakdown of his offences because they pre-dated its creation in 1986.

In his previous brush with the law back in 2012 Knowles was jailed for stealing whiskey miniatures the day after finishing a spell in prison.

Plymouth Crown Court heard the crook had £160 in his pocket at the time - but was 'institutionalised' and knew perfectly well he would be sent back to jail.

Recorder Robin Belben told him at last October's hearing: 'You have been caught in a revolving door over the last two or three years.

'You commit an offence, you go to prison - and you commit another as soon as you are released.'


Plymouth Crown Court heard Robert Knowles 'knew perfectly well' he would be sent back to jail (SWNS)

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