A DISTRICT judge has publicly commended the Cleddau Project for helping a repeat offender to turn his life around, proving the judge wrong and avoiding prison for the defendant.

Michael Davies, 36, of Cross Park, Pennar, previously appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates court on September 18 for sentencing.

He had pleaded guilty to stealing food worth £5.68 from Pennar post office and resisting a police officer on August 17; shoplifiting toiletries worth £10.84 from the 99p store in Castle Square, Haverfordwest, on June 11th; burglary of a property in Pembroke on August 20th, where power tools and a lawnmower were stolen; and breaching a conditional discharge on August 8.

Sentencing was deferred until Tuesday on the condition that he complied with a community order and did not commit any offences before then.

On September 18 the court was told Davies had a longterm drink problem, but had found somewhere to live and was making progress with the Cleddau Project Judge Manning-Davies said he was “delighted” on Tuesday, after reading a probation report on Davies’ progress over the last two months.

Previously, he had in mind a nine-month prison sentence, but added: “I can suspend what I thought was inevitable.”

The judge told Davies’ solicitor, Jonathan Webb: “I did not think your client would be able to keep to the deferred sentence. I have been proven wrong and I am willing to say that in public.”

Summing-up Judge Manning- Davies said he “very unusually” had heard from a number of people speaking in support of Davies on September 18.

“The court heard Davies was engaged fully with the Cleddau Project, had managed to get temporary employment and resumed contact with his children, as well as writing to those he had stolen from.

Judge Manning-Davies said: “Icommendthe Cleddau Project. I think if they can turn around the life of someone like you, that says something about the staff there.”

Davies was handed a nine month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with supervision for 18 months.