A one-legged man who carried out a fortnight-long shoplifting spree was caught because of his distinctive appearance on security CCTV footage.
But David Phillips, 52, avoided a jail sentence after a sheriff criticised social workers for coming close to “disability discrimination” in their handling of his case.
In a report to court they advised against community payback for Phillips because of the difficulty in finding him unpaid work he could carry out in the community.
Sheriff Pino di Emidio said: “One is very close to a form of disability discrimination with that.
“It’s like getting a report that says he can’t work because he doesn’t speak English very well, for example.
“I am inclined to deal with this by putting you on a very short leash,” he told Phillips.
“As an alternative to prison I will make a community payback order for two years.”
He placed Phillips – who has lost a further toe in addition to his amputated leg – under supervision and put him on a curfew for six months.
Phillips of Greyfriars, Perth, admitted five charges of shoplifting at Morrisons, Boots, Marks and Spencer and Debenhams in Perth between July 25 and August 8. The goods stolen were worth more than £500.
Solicitor John McLaughlin, defending, said: “He is well known and no disrespect to him, but he is in a wheelchair and must stick out like a sore thumb in any CCTV review.”
Phillips was also sentenced for using his walking stick to smash a shop window before clambering into a nail bar and helping himself to a haul of items.
He spent 22 minutes rifling around inside the shop but he was caught red-handed after witnesses saw him climbing back out through the broken window. He admitted breaking into the Nail Boutique in Perth on May 27 last year.
Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie said: “At 8.40pm members of the public were walking past when they saw a broken window.
“They then saw the accused climbing out the window in possession of several items and they called the police. He was traced outside Perth Railway Station a short time later and detained.
“He was searched and found to be in possession of all of the stolen items except the cash. Officers carried out a review of CCTV.
“He was seen to have used his walking stick and an object to strike the window, breaking it. He then entered and was inside the store for 22 minutes.”
Miss Gillespie told the court that Phillips had a long record of previous convictions including housebreaking, shoplifting, assault, reckless discharge of a firearm and attempted murder.
He has also recently served a nine month sentence imposed after he admitted stealing two bottles of Calvin Klein perfume from Debenhams in Perth.
Phillips, 52, admitted stealing the fragrance and having cannabis on February 23 this year and he was again captured on CCTV.
Solicitor Cliff Culley, defending on that occasion, admitted that Phillips carried out the offence after getting high to celebrate being released from prison the previous day.
He was jailed for 98 days last December after leaping out of his wheelchair to confront a store security guard.
The amputee – who has committed over 100 crimes of dishonesty during a 36-year-long criminal career – was found guilty then of threatening or abusive behaviour.
Perth and Kinross Council, which employs the social workers, did not respond to a request for comment.