ONE of the country’s most prolific shoplifters was held up on his way to Bolton Crown Court when part of the M62 was closed because scores of live chickens escaped from a lorry.

Harry Hankinson, aged 65, was due to be sentenced for trying to steal expensive items including a designer watch and a handbag from Selfridges in Manchester.

But the pensioner, from Halliwell, who has a total of 235 convictions for 521 offences, including 432 for theft, was unable to attend court because the vehicle transporting him from prison had been delayed in the aftermath of the chickens’ escape.

Judge Peter Davies said: “Unfortunately he has been unavoidably detained by the chickens on the motorway,” adding that the “poultry problem” meant that the sentencing would be adjourned until Friday.