A WOMAN from Irvinestown went into a changing-room in the Marks and Spencer store in Omagh with her children in order to hide a number of items, including a bunch of flowers.
Michelle Slattery (33) of Slieveban Road, Aghagaffert was ordered to carry out 60 hours unpaid community work when she admitted a shoplifting charge and obstruction an police officer when she appeared before the town’s Magistrates Court.
She also received a 12 month probation order and was told to participate in the ‘Thinking Skills’ programme run by the probation service.
Slattery initially claimed in court that she was unable to carry out the community service order because she is pregnant, however she changed her mind when District Judge Bernie Kelly said the alternative was a custodial sentence.
On September 14 last year staff at the store in Omagh detained the defendant after they found £50 worth of unpaid goods in her shopping bag after they saw her acting suspiciously.
She told them her name was ‘Louise Brady’ but when police discovered her phone showed her real name, she claimed she had it changed by deed poll but not officially received her new name yet.
CCTV footage showed her lifting a number of items and putting them in a buggy. She then went into the changing-room with her two children but when she re-emerged the items were out of sight. They included a bunch of flowers.
During police interview Slattery claimed she had been distracted by the children and forgot to make the payments.
Defence barrister Blaine Nugent said the case was a “simple shoplifting matter” with items of relatively low value involved. He also suggested there was little planning in the offending.
However Judge Kelly disagreed and stated that it was not simple and was pre-planned.
The judge said: “She chose one of the more expensive outlets and chose to blame her children. She took the items to the dressing-room to secrete them in a buggy. She was not distracted by her children and one of the items was a bunch of flowers which she did not need.”
Imposing the combination order, Judge Kelly told Slattery: “This wasn’t just a momentary lapse of concentration. You used your children and made them an accessory to your crime. This is a serious matter, not a simple matter to be brushed under the carpet.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition