Two women who planned a “shopping spree without money” have both been handed suspended prison sentences after stealing over £650 worth of goods in one day.
Sharon Reilly, 20, of Brookfield Meadows, Banbridge and Chantelle Stokes, 20, of Cornshell Fields, Derry/Londonderry pleaded guilty at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday charged with four counts of theft.
The incident occurred on June 9, last year, when police were called to a report of theft from Tesco, Lurgan by two females.
Court heard that the two had made off through the tills before hiding in public toilets where they were found by officers.
It was found that they had stolen foundation and a pregnancy test from the store valued at around £21.
A search of the women’s bags was carried out which resulted in the finding of; £581 worth of bedding and shoes from Dunnes Stores in Portadown, picture frames to the value of £16 from Around A Pound in Lurgan and shoes totalling £39.96 from Shoezone, Lurgan.
No proof of purchase was found for any of the items and all still had tags.
When interviewed Reilly admitted to the Tesco theft but denied the others, while Stokes claimed she was not involved in any of the offences.
District Judge Bernie Kelly noted that both had lived in Banbridge at the time and had travelled for the “sole purpose of stealing”.
She went on to say that this was a “pre-planned shopping spree without money”.
Defence counsel commented that it “wasn’t planned very well as they left the tags on”, adding that both had informed him “they had never done anything like this before”.
Judge Kelly asked how they had travelled from Banbridge on that day, the defence told her they had arrived by bus.
The judge was highly suspect of this stating “you are telling me they were gonna cart over £600 worth of goods on a bus?”
The issue of why they had travelled to commit the crime was also suspicious to Judge Kelly who believed this was as they would be less recognisable, “albeit with nothing on their record”.
Defence counsel told the court that both defendants were genuinely remorseful for what they had done.
Judge Kelly explained to the women “everybody in this world had financial problems, it does not give them the carte blanche to nick whatever they need”.
Court heard that Reilly – the older of the two – was a mother, with the judge stating that the idea of leaving her children motherless at the time “did not bother you in the slightest”.
Both women were sentenced to four months in prison.