Pregnant South Shields thief spared prison

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A HEAVILY pregnant shop thief has been spared jail – after magistrates were told it would not be ‘humanitarian’ to lock her up.

Lisa Morton – who is due to give birth next week – snatched perfume and clothing valued at nearly £100 from two South Tyneside stores in as many days.

The 32-year-old admitted the thefts, on Friday and Saturday from Next and Debenhams in South Shields, when she appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The matter was adjourned for probation reports to be prepared but magistrates agreed with a plea from Morton’s defence solicitor not to remand her in custody.

The court heard that she had was given a three-week jail sentence for another shop theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last month.

Morton, of Beach Road, South Shields, also admitted a third offence, of going equipped for theft, after being found with duct tape and a foil-lined bag when arrested.

Stan Sudworth, prosecuting, said: “On Saturday at 1.30pm, Debenhams staff reported an attempted theft from the store.

“Morton had taken perfume from a display but when challenged had put it back. Police were called and she was arrested,

“A search found children’s clothing from Next in her bag and perfume from Debenhams, as well as a foil-lined bag.”

She initially said the items were gifts but inquiries found the £36 worth of clothing had been taken from Next on Friday, August 15 and the £60 perfume from Debenhams the following day.

Mr Sudworth added: “The property was recovered. She has a record of offending and was given three weeks’ custody on July 14.” Magistrates asked for a probation report to be completed, ahead of sentencing at the court on September 26.

Christopher Brown, defending, urged the court to grant her bail in the meantime.

Mr Brown said: “She has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. She is due to give birth next week.

“She is living in a refuge, has had no benefits, she is at a very low ebb.

“That doesn’t entitle her to steal, which she she admits what she did. She is about to give birth, has no money, has to rely on friends.

“Is it fair on the child, to be born in prison? On humanitarian grounds, I would implore you – with the welfare of the child being uppermost – to give her bail.”

Elaine McCulloch, chairwoman of the magistrates, said: “You will be released on conditional bail.

“But if you breach those conditions, you could be remanded in custody.”

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