Benefit sanctions ‘led Spalding mum to steal’

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One missed appointment led to a Spalding woman having her benefits sanctioned, then shoplifting to support her children.

Sarah Smith (27), of St John’s Road, stole various items from shops in and around Spalding in order to sell them on.

Defending, Dav Naghan told Boston magistrates on Wednesday that Smith’s children were being looked after by her mother and that she stole the items to contribute to her mother’s mortgage payments and to help cover the expenses of looking after her offspring.

Smith admitted six charges of theft - first stealing £120 of clothing from Next at Springfields outlet shopping centre in January, then taking tubs of protein from Holland & Barrett in Hall Place on three occasions in March, with a total value of £359.92; six cans of Dulux paint worth £88.68 from B&Q in May and finally, two joints of meat and dishwasher tablets, of unspecified value, from Morrisons in Pinchbeck on May 19.

Mr Naghan continued: “A look at her record sees a serious turn of events for this lady. She has no previous convictions.

“After she was sanctioned for a number of weeks, her children were taken into the care of her mother and she has made a sequence of bad decisions.

“She found herself in financial hell and has taken to stealing the items.

“She has been dealt with voluntarily for all offences except at Morrisons, when she was taken into custody.

“She sold three protein tubs for just £20 each, so she made £60 against a total value of nearly £400 - so it hasn’t added up for her, as she knows she will have to pay the money back.”

Magistrates commented that they had heard Smith had not been in trouble previously and in view of that, were prepared to take that into consideration.

Smith was given a 16-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay back a total of £479.92 compensation for goods which had not been recovered.

She was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £20.