Footballer stole £8,000 of cigarettes from Leeds Post Office in crime spree one day after bail

A talented footballer who stole cigarettes worth £8,000 from a post office during a spree of crime has been locked up for eight months.

Jake Smith, 19, forced open window shutters to carry out the raid at Tong Road Post Office, Armley on March 9 last year.

The man stole from Tong Road Post Office in Armley

The man stole from Tong Road Post Office in Armley

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Leeds Crown Court heard Smith had been granted bail by magistrates the previous day after pleading guilty to another burglary office.

Smith, of Telford Terrace, Hunslet, was linked to the post office break-in after his blood was recovered from the scene.

The teenager also took part in an attempted break-in at a shop in Middleton, Leeds, on September 9 before he was arrested.

Vincent Blake-Barnard, prosecuting, said Smith and another man were caught on CCTV trying to force open shutters with a crowbar.

Smith ran off and police stopped him nearby. He was wearing gloves and carrying a head torch.

Around £400 worth of damage was caused to the property.

Smith pleaded guilty to burglary, attempted burglary and failing to surrender.

The court heard Smith has eight previous convictions, including for an offence of burglary.

Kate Bisset, mitigating, said Smith had pleaded guilty to the offences at an early stage but accepted he would be facing an immediate custodial sentence.

Miss Bisset said letters of reference had been written to the court on behalf of the "pathway to professional football academy."

She added: "He has considerable talent in the field of football."

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Sentencing Smith, judge Tom Bayliss, QC, said: "You are obviously a very talented sportsman and your behavior on the pitch and at the academy is exemplary and you were appointed team captain.

"Sadly you used your leadership skills on one such occasion to commit burglary.

The judge added: "You can either live your life as a petty criminal, going to prison for an increasingly long time, or you can take the view that you can turn your life around and show some of the skills which you have shown at the academy and put them to good use. That is up to you."