Serial shoplifter targeted M&S

editorial image

A WOMAN with a “dreadful” record of 37 shoplifting convictions has walked free from a court after admitting yet another.

Diane Cree, 42, has committed so many offences at the same store, Marks and Spencer in Westborough, that she was already under an exclusion order barring her from setting foot in the premises.

However, York Crown Court was told that on September 19 last year she was again seen by store security staff pushing items into two bags before making her way towards the exit.

Stephanie Hancock, prosecuting, said that after realising she had been spotted Cree, of North Marine Road, unloaded £89 worth of clothing from the bags and then left.

She was stopped outside and later told police officers called to the store that she accepted what she had done.

Cree pleaded guilty before the court to a charge of theft, the court hearing that since the early 1990’s she had amassed a record which included 37 similar offences and had committed the latest while on licence for an earlier theft from the same store.

Trisha Doherty, mitigating said that at the time of the offence Cree had still very much been in the grips of a heroin addiction.

She added that in September 2010 her client had also been “destitute”, having nowhere to live and her partner serving a prison sentence.

It was in these circumstances, said Mrs Doherty, that, when told by other drug addicts that they had a market for clothing from Marks and Spencer, Cree committed the offence.

Judge Peter Benson said that Cree was a “persistent offender” with a “dreadful” record and that on his first readings of the case papers he had thought there was no alternative but a longer period of custody.

However, the judge added that after learning that she was starting to tackle her addiction and had not offended since September last year, he was prepared to take “an exceptional course” and give Cree a chance.

Sentencing Cree to a 12-month community order with supervision, the judge also ordered that she should undertake a 12-month drug rehabilitation programme.

He also ordered that the exclusion order on Cree entering the Scarborough store should continue indefinitely.

Judge Benson warned Cree that if she broke the conditions of the sentence, or re-offended during its operation, he could see no other alternative than a custodial sentence.