A childless student has been charged after allegedly stealing nearly $900 worth of baby formula from a north Canberra supermarket.
"Is there some reason he might require baby formula?" a perplexed Magistrate Glenn Theakston asked as Zachery Norton appeared in court on Friday morning.
Legal Aid duty lawyer Solitaire Zahnleiter replied that the man's motivation appeared to have been the funding of an illicit drug habit.
Police documents tendered to the ACT Magistrates Court allege that Norton put 24 tins of baby formula into a trolley and wheeled them out of Coles at Westfield Belconnen on Wednesday night.
The 26-year-old Garran man allegedly told a staff member who tried to stop him that he was "in a rush" as he took off.
The store duty manager is said to have recognised Norton as "a recidivist shoplifter among various Coles stores".
Police were notified, and officers subsequently visited Norton at his home on Thursday night.
They claim to have found seven tins of baby formula in a car parked outside, while they also noted that the 26-year-old was wearing shoes that matched those worn by the man seen on Coles CCTV stealing the items.
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Norton was arrested, and did not enter a plea to a fresh charge of minor theft when he appeared in court on Friday morning.
The court heard he had been on bail at the relevant time, awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to two existing counts of minor theft, a charge of possessing stolen property, and six driving offences.
Prosecutor Crystal Holt applied for Norton's bail to be revoked, saying no conditions, except perhaps house arrest, could ameliorate the likelihood of him "stealing in the community".
She also said the 26-year-old had a lengthy history of breaching bail conditions and failing to appear in court.
But Ms Zahnleiter opposed the application to revoke bail, saying it was only a matter of time before Norton was admitted to a residential drug rehabilitation facility.
She conceded he had "an unenviable criminal history" but said he just needed to complete some outstanding paperwork to begin the process of turning his life around.
Mr Theakston ultimately placed Norton back on bail, despite saying he had "some concerns about this defendant".
The magistrate said the risk of the 26-year-old reoffending was "real" and that the man's history of failing to appear in court was "not great".
But he said he hoped the still relatively young man had reached a turning point, and that Norton would realise it might be a case of now or never if he wanted to make changes in his life.
Mr Theakston imposed several bail conditions, including that Norton observe a nightly curfew and only leave home between 8pm and 6am if accompanied by his sister.
Norton is due to enter a plea to the fresh charge on August 12.
His earlier charges are listed for sentence on October 1.
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