Stole £8,000 but escaped jail term

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A TRAINEE solicitor and former Tory council candidate stole more than £8,000 from John Lewis but escaped jail in a decision described as “unusual”.

Victoria Lawson (25), of Drove Gate, Holbeach Drove, was handed a community order with supervision after admitting the thefts from the Queensgate store this summer.

Last year she stood as a Conservative candidate in Holbeach town ward of the South Holland District Council elections.

At Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Friday, she was spared jail by district judge Andrew Jones.

Anthea Hall, prosecuting, said Lawson had a Saturday job and a took total of £8,101.90 on 13 occasions by refunding items to her own bank account.

But she was rumbled by store staff who became suspicious and watched her till.

She immediately confessed to management and police when questioned.

Judge Jones said: “It is a sad day when someone with your promise and your undoubted ability appears before a court for offences like this.

“I am not going to repeat what was said in the pre-sentence report. Although it doesn’t provide an excuse or justification why you offended it does provide some explanation why someone of impeccable character should do something like this.

“I am not going to read out the reasons in open court but I fully understand the difficulty you had.”

He added that she knew from her legal training that court was for punishment and rehabilitation and the report made it clear she was at low risk of re-offending.

He added: “You are going to suffer some significant and life-long punishment in the sense that the years of training you have undertaken will not be put to use.

“You will never be able to practise as a lawyer and that’s a life-long punishment, over and above anything this court can impose.

“I’m adopting this unusual course as you know from your training, theft from employment often imposes a prison sentence.”

He added: “The real punishment is the tragic fact that you will probably never practise as a solicitor.

“I’m equally certain that you will never be sat in the circumstances you find yourself here today.”

No mitigation was given but at a previous hearing the court heard she was experiencing extreme loneliness and receiving psychiatric help to explain her actions.

Lawson admitted six counts of theft by employee between June 23 and August 4, 2012.

John Lewis did not comment and refused to confirm or deny if she still works for the firm.