District judge gives shoplifter ‘a fresh start’ by deleting £1,430 she owed in fines

Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

A shoplifter walked out of court £1,430 better off after a judge deleted the fines she owed.

Alison Dunn was told by District Judge Martin Walker ‘everyone deserves a fresh start now and again’, but the judge warned her she would go to prison if she shoplifted again.

Dunn appeared in court after she had walked into the Pep&Co shop in Middleton Grange shopping centre in Hartlepool, took a bag from a display and filled it with clothing, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.

“She was detained by security staff,” said Paula Sanderson, prosecuting. “The items were recovered.

“When questioned by police, Dunn said she had been pressured into going shoplifting by her boyfriend.”

Dunn, 43, of Helmsley Street, Hartlepool, admitted theft on April 27.

The court heard she has previous convictions for theft, and owes £1,430 in unpaid fines.

Shiela Ramshaw, defending, said in mitigation: “Ms Dunn was doing well on her previous community order, but that progress stopped when her partner was released from prison.

“There was a problem with their joint benefits claim which I understand is now being sorted out.”

Judge Walker ordered Dunn’s fines account of £1,430 to be deleted, and sentenced her to a community order of 12 months, and a curfew for 28 days.

The judge told her: “I have dealt with you before a number of times.

“You were making progress on the previous community order, and I want that progress to continue.

“But if you carry on offending, or as some might cynically say, carry on getting caught, you will go to prison,

“I don’t want to be the one to send you to prison, but I will if I have to.”

Dunn was ordered to pay £165 costs and compensation.