A BEGGAR who was banned from Colchester town centre after faking being homeless has avoided jail.

Thomas Roy, 51, of Montgomery Close, Colchester, was caught begging on South Street last Thursday afternoon.

It came just weeks after he was handed an eight-week jail sentence in February for breaching a two year criminal behaviour order.

After Roy, who is not homeless, was spotted in the town centre he was arrested and appeared before magistrates the following day charged with breaching the criminal behaviour order.

This time the court handed down a six month sentence which was suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

The two-year order, handed out due to his persistent anti-social behaviour, means he is banned from begging, and also from entering Colchester town centre except for to attend pre-arranged medical, legal and other appointments for professional-related matters.

Sergeant Martin Willsher said: “My officers take reports of reoffending in Colchester town centre very seriously and we ensure that we act on intelligence that comes in from members of the public.

“We will continue our hard work with partners as part of the Colchester Town Centre Action plan to keep our town centre a safe place for residents, tourists and people who work here.”

In February, Roy breached his order just two days after it was issued by magistrates.

He then was arrested and charged but continued to ignore the order.

On three occasions he was seen begging for money and on the fourth occasion he came into the town centre with no pre-arranged appointment.