ONE of the country’s most prolific shoplifters may suffer from kleptomania, an illness that causes him to steal, a court has heard.

Harry Hankinson, aged 65, tried to steal expensive items including a designer Longines watch along with purses and a handbag from Manchester’s luxurious Selfridges department store.

The pensioner, of Kingsley Street, Halliwell, has a total of 235 convictions for 521 offences, 432 of them for theft.

He was due to be sentenced for a catalogue of thefts after admitting the crimes and could be banned from areas of Bolton if an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) application is approved.

But Recorder Jeremy Lasker adjourned the case after hearing Hankinson may suffer from the condition.

Shirlie Duckworth, defending Hankinson, said he has told her he suffers from Kleptomania and has impulse control issues.

Ms Duckworth said: “Mr Hankinson would keep the items on many occasions.

"He describes one particular incident where having left a shop he found himself waiting for public transport, someone pointed out that he had a bag in his possession.

"He realised he hadn’t paid for at least one of the items. He returned to the store and told them he had left the store without paying.

"When his wife was alive she would contact the police about items. He is not living a lavish lifestyle.”

Hankinson was remanded in custody when he appeared at Bolton Magistrates last month.

Bolton Crown Court heard he has made two suicide attempts while on remand.

An ASBO, if approved, would ban him from entering stores in Bolton including Aldi, two Co-ops and Morrisons.

The court heard reports, including a psychological report, had been made in the past.

Recorder Larkin said: “Some old medical reports of yours are going to be provided to your solicitors to see if it helps your position.”

Hankinson closed his eyes when told he would be remanded into custody. He will be sentenced on May 14.