A POLICE chief’s letter of praise for a drugs offender, who is seeking to mend his ways, persuaded a judge to show him leniency.

Temporary Superintendent Steve Wallace, former district commander for Basingstoke and Deane, wrote a letter praising Paul Cooper for showing a willingness to change his ways.

Cooper, 44, was in the dock at Winchester Crown Court for sentence, having admitted theft and possession of a Class B and Class A drug.

Russell Pyne, prosecuting, said Cooper also asked for nine thefts from cars and an attempted burglary committed in the borough during two weeks in November last year to be taken into consideration.

Mr Pyne said Cooper, of St Peter’s Road, South Ham, stole four wheels from a car belonging to Cindy Cooper, in Tadley, on November 11 last year.

Eleven days later, he was driving a car in Hackwood Road, Basingstoke, when it was stopped by police officers.

They found cannabis in a tin on the dashboard, and later recovered a wrap of crack cocaine when Cooper was strip-searched at Basingstoke police station. Mr Pyne said there were two other people in the car who were also arrested.

He added: “It was thought this defendant’s involvement was that the wrap of cocaine was payment for driving around others who were involved in dealing Class A drugs.”

Mr Pyne said Cooper told officers he was involved in a series of nine thefts from cars last November, smashing windows to take items, and had also committed one attempted shed burglary.

Paul Harrison, defending, said Cooper’s admissions had led the police to offer to help him move out of Basingstoke.

Judge Susan Evans said the letter from Tem Supt Wallace showed Cooper was willing to change, adding: “That makes a significant difference to me. As a result, I’m prepared to give you a chance.” She sentenced Cooper to a 12-month community order, with a drug rehabilitation and supervision requirements. He was also ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge.