Woman freed after sentence appeal

Harrogate Magistrates Court
Harrogate Magistrates Court

A WOMAN who was jailed for stealing a carton of cream walked free from court after she successfully appealed against her sentence.

But Vanessa Shellard, of Queen’s Terrace in Scarborough, was told that she had the “sword of Damocles” hanging over her head and would almost certainly return to prison if she commits any further offences within six months.

The 39-year-old former dental nurse had been sentenced on March 9 to four weeks’ prison for stealing the cream, from the Nisa store in North Marine Road, eight days earlier.

Three weeks of a four-week suspended prison sentence, which she had been given in February for possession of a bladed article and shoplifting, had also been imposed by Scarborough magistrates.

Nicoleta Alistari, who represented Shellard, said: “The sentence was excessive in the circumstances. It was an item of very, very low value and she pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“She was hungry, had no money and stole the cream for her cereals.”

Miss Alistari admitted her client had a poor criminal record, but Recorder Stuart Brown QC pointed out that Shellard had avoided trouble with the police completely between 2006 and 2011.

Recorder Brown asked whether Shellard wished to continue with the appeal, given the fact that she would have been released from custody within weeks.

Miss Alistari assured the Recorder that her client wanted to continue and was keen to work with the probation service.

Allowing the appeal, Recorder Brown said: “We hope you will thank us, but if you commit any other offences in the next six months you may not do so.

“Given your record, we understand why magistrates took the view that a custodial sentence was appropriate, but it could properly have been suspended.”

Shellard was released from custody. Instead a four week prison sentence, suspended for six months, was imposed for the theft.

The earlier suspended sentence will remain in place. Shellard will undergo supervision for the duration of the six months.