A SYRIAN shepherd who fled his homeland under penalty of death ended up in Blackburn stealing to fund a heroin addiction.

Blackburn magistrates heard Lawein Koloos Jejo was wrongly accused of defacing a presidential poster and ended up seeking asylum in the UK.

After arriving he married and had children but everything went wrong for him after he was given what he thought was a cannabis cigarette but turned out to contain heroin.

“That was in 2010 and since then heroin has had a significant influence on his behaviour,” said Michael Blacklidge, defending.

Probation officer Steve Cooper told the magistrates Jejo had worked as a shepherd on his parents farm until 2004 when he had to flee Syria.

“He was wrongly accused of writing insulting comments on a presidential poster and apparently the punishment for that would have been death,” said Mr Cooper.

He said Jejo had no education in Syria but having come to the UK went to classes to learn English.

Jejo, 23, of Skye Crescent, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to going equipped for theft with a pair of wire cutters and stealing a coat from Next.

He was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for 12 months, made subject to community supervision for 12 months with a nine months drug rehabilitation requirement and ordered to pay £80 costs.