Parents of eight children were a ‘shoplifting team’


A COUPLE who have eight children have had their sentencing for theft adjourned to give them a chance to avoid going to prison.
Ellen Ward (37) and Charles Ward (37), of Carnmore Rise, Enniskillen, appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday where they pleaded guilty to theft.
On October 23, at around 2.05pm, the couple went into Aiken Autospares on the Sligo Road in Enniskillen. CCTV showed Ellen Ward putting a pair of bolt cutters under her clothes and the couple, who staff had observed looking up to see if there were cameras, left the store without paying for them. The bolt cutters, worth £40.46, and they were never recovered.
Ellen Ward faced a second charge, pleading guilty to the theft of a coat worth £25 from Sports Direct in Enniskillen on September 29.
At around 9.30am police were called to the store, where they spoke to staff who said CCTV showed Ellen Ward coming into the shop wearing different clothes, then leaving wearing the coat. The coat was later found at her home but wasn’t fit for resale.
Defence solicitor Gary Black said while the couple did not have lengthy records, but their previous convictions were relevant and they were in breach of a suspended sentence. He said the couple have eight children aged nine months to 17-years-old, prompting District Judge Nigel Broderick to ask who would look after them if they were sent to prison.
Judge Broderick said the thefts had been deliberate and calculated, and it was not a case that they were stealing food because they were hungry. Mr Black said both defendants were on benefits, and had stolen items they needed.
Under further questioning from the judge, Mr Black said the couple had lost the key to their shed, which was why they needed the bolt cutters, while Ellen Ward had stolen the jacket out of need due to weather conditions.
Stating the previous suspended sentence had not seemed to stop them reoffending, Judge Broderick said the couple appeared to work as a team, and said while the value of items they’d stolen seemed small, the costs added up for shopkeepers.
Stating there was every reason they should both go to prison, Judge Broderick agreed to adjourn sentencing for six months, until October 15th, to give them a chance not to reoffend.

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