A wheelchair-bound thief who threatened to return and ‘do over’ a shop boss after being caught stealing a pork joint was spared jail.

Jonathan Waddington, 44, spat racial abuse and threats at Tesco supervisor Derrick Williams after being caught hiding the meat in his coat as he wheeled around the store.

The one-legged shoplifter, whose 16 previous convictions include assault, drugs charges and other thefts, then telephoned a friend before threatening to split Mr Williams’ head open.

Waddington used crutches to support himself in the dock while being sentenced at Inner London Crown Court.

Passing sentence, Judge Mark Bishop told him: ‘All Mr Williams was doing was his job.

‘You were extremely offensive towards him, and you must understand that offences of this kind are taken extremely seriously,’ he said.

‘Not only did you abuse him, but you started to give instructions over the telephone to somebody.’

Mr Williams, supervisor at the Tesco Express in Rye Lane, Peckham, became suspicious as he watched Waddington wheel around the south London branch on March 13, 2010.

Nathalie Carter, prosecuting, said he was seen to nervously throw an item back on the shelf after realising he was being watched, before hiding a pork joint under his coat.

‘Mr Williams waited for him to leave the store, and approached him and asked him whether he had paid for it,’ she said.

‘Mr Waddington removed the leg of pork, valued at £5, and threw it on the floor.

‘He said “I took it because I was hungry – do you want to nick me for that?”.’

While waiting for the police to arrive, he snarled that the black shop worker was ‘not from this country’.

Ms Carter added: ‘He said that his family were thieves and drug dealers, and they were going to split Mr Williams’ head open.’

The disabled shoplifter then pulled out his phone, called a friend and began describing Mr Williams, before hanging up and adding: ‘Watch your back – me and my friends are going to get you and do you over.’

Elaine Stapleton, defending, said Waddington’s leg had been amputated in 2008 after his use of class A drugs inflamed a pre-existing medical condition.

He had since gone cold turkey but instead turned to alcohol and entered a ‘spiral of depression and drinking,’ she said.

‘The difficulty is he has substituted alcohol for drugs. It is a continuing cycle unfortunately.’

Waddington, of (2A) Gloucester Circus, Greenwich, southeast London, was sentenced to a four-month jail term, suspended for nine months, a nine month supervision order and a six-month alcohol treatment order.

He admitted racially-aggravated assault, theft and breaching a conditional discharge.