A habitual offender narrowly avoided jail on Tuesday after pleading guilty to the theft of three storm drain covers at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court.

Steven John Simms, 51, of Fleming Crescent, has 64 previous offences on his record.

Prosecutor Ellie Morgan told the court theft was the ‘main feature’ of Simms’ offending.

Ms Morgan said a Pembrokeshire County Council worker had contacted police on November 9 last year, after noticing three covers were missing from drains in Haverfordwest town centre.

The covers were eventually located in a yard used by Simms to store scrap metal. When he was arrested, Simms told police he planned to sell the items to get money for food.

Jonathan Webb, defending, said Simms’ history of offending had ‘slowed down’ in the past few years and he wanted to ‘stop pinching’.

Highlighting the potentially serious danger to pedestrians and vehicles caused by the theft, magistrates gave Simms a 12 week prison sentence, to be suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to pay a fine and court costs totalling £165.

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council, said: "The Council welcomes this conviction and hopes that it will serve as a warning to others.

"Although they are expensive for the Council to replace, drain covers actually have very little scrap value.

"However their removal does present road users – pedestrians and motorists – with a genuine safety hazard.

"That apart, drain covers do fulfil an important function in trapping debris and preventing it from blocking the drainage system. That role is particularly significant in view of the bad weather we have recently experienced."