AN "unstable" shoplifter who stole from a town centre store while armed with a kitchen knife has been put behind bars.

Scott Fifield, 22, caused "substantial alarm and distress" to shopkeepers throughout July and August when he embarked on a spree of theft across Colchester and Ipswich.

When he entered Primark, in Culver Street East, in August, he was equipped with a knife.

He stole from a branch of Wilko, in Ipswich, in July, while armed with a bladed pruner.

Ipswich Crown Court heard Fifield, of no fixed address, Ipswich, has amassed 22 convictions for 55 offences.

His long criminal history includes seven convictions for possessing a bladed weapon.

At an earlier hearing, he admitted three charges of shoplifting and two counts of possessing a knife.

Hannah Sutton, mitigating, said: "Since he has been remanded over the past two months he has completed maths and English courses.

"He has also completed a detox, he was tested for drugs while in prison and the tests reported to be clean.

"He is determined to use his time in custody - he wishes to express his remorse and use his time to better himself.

"He has four children and is only 22 years of age, he wishes to be a better role model to them in the future."

Judge Rupert Overbury jailed Fifield for 18 months and passed a criminal behaviour order spanning two years and seven months.

The order bans the thief from entering parts of Ipswich town centre and the Primark store in Colchester.

He branded Fifield a "thorough, anti-social nuisance."

"I am going to, I hope, assist the shop keepers by passing a deterrent sentence which will allow them a relatively short period of respite from your behaviour," he said.

"I am also going to pass a criminal behaviour order for a period of two years and seven months from when you're released.

"I am perfectly satisfied your behaviour is causing substantial harassment, alarm and distress to shopkeepers, particularly because on two occasions in July and August you were shoplifting armed at the same time with a bladed article.

"With your background of using drugs that creates in itself an instability in your character and, who knows, in a drug induced moment whether or not you would pull a knife out if caught shoplifting."