ONE of Oxford's most prolific and notorious conmen has been given his just desserts and will spend Christmas behind bars.

Eric Austin, dubbed the 'dine-and-dash conman', has wreaked havoc at bars and restaurants across the city for years and is already banned from setting foot in any city eatery where food can be eaten before it is paid for.

The 48-year-old was first made subject to a Criminal Behaviour Order after repeatedly splurging on expensive meals and fine dining at various eateries before fleeing into the night when faced with the bill.

Now magistrates have had enough and city traders can rest easy over the festive season after he was handed his longest term of imprisonment yet for breaching that order – a six-month stint behind bars.

At the court on November 7, Austin pleaded guilty to one count of breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order which had been previously imposed by Banbury Magistrates' Court on May 2 last year.

Austin had breached the order when he turned up at The Alchemist at Oxford's Westgate Centre the previous day on November 6.

He was jailed for six months because of his 'flagrant disregard for court orders' as well as a 'flagrant disregard for people and their property'.

The situation was also aggravated by his previous offences.

As well as the six-month jail term handed to him by magistrates he was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £115.

While The Alchemist declined to comment officially, staff told Oxford Mail that on the day of the incident Austin had arrived at the cocktail bar and ordered a pint of water.

While there and enjoying his aperitif, Westgate security staff quietly contacted the bar to make staff aware he had been spotted and identified and that police were on their way.

Once officers arrived he was then spoken to and taken outside before he was later arrested, the quick actions of the security staff possibly stopping Austin from ordering any food.

Speaking after the court appearance Thames Valley Police praised the outcome of the case and the conviction for Austin.

Spokesman James Williams said: "Thames Valley Police welcomes the court’s decision after Eric Austin breached his Criminal Behaviour Order.

"CBOs are aimed at tackling persistent offenders where their behaviour has brought them before a criminal court, and it is an offence to breach the order."

Previously, Austin has been caught on numerous occasions racking up expensive bills at bars and restaurants before making off without paying and has spent a number of stints behind bars for his offending.

In November last year he was jailed for eight weeks after scoffing Nepalese cuisine at Kadai N Naan, Cowley Road, East Oxford, before fleeing.

Austin was also jailed for 12 weeks in 2016 after a spree of ordering food without paying at various eateries across the city.

In May of that year he ran off after working his way through the menu at George Street’s Pint Shop before taking on Cowley Road’s Kazbar and racking up a £55 bill, and later targeting Jericho’s Mezzeto the same week.

At the time Oxford anti-social behaviour officer Mike Ellis said he was glad to see Austin get his just dessert with a jail term and said: “He is an incorrigible offender who continues to take advantage of restaurants and hotels around Oxford.”