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Stretton cigarette thief discharged after turning her life around

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 08, 2014

By Matthew Cobb

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A WOMAN who stole cigarettes from a shop in Stretton has been handed a conditional discharge after magistrates were told how she had managed to turn her life around.

Burton Magistrates' Court was told how Zoe Richardson, 30, of New Street in Burton, had distracted the shop assistant at Stretton Village Stores on the evening of June 17 before running off with cigarettes worth £20.40.

Magistrates heard how Richardson, who has a number of previous convictions for similar offences, had asked for the cigarettes. They were then placed on the counter before she then asked for a bottle of 20/20 wine, which she had no intention of buying.

It was while the shop assistant's back was turned that Richardson picked up the cigarettes and ran from the store. Magistrates were told that she knew what she was doing and had no intention at all to buy the alcohol as well.

Defending, Sonia Lawrence told magistrates that Richardson had taken the cigarettes as she had no money and needed to pay her electricity bill. She added that having previously been a user of heroin, Richardson came to a decision three months ago that she was going to turn her life around and put an end to her addiction.

Ms Lawrence asked for magistrates to take Richardson's recent personal circumstances into consideration when discussing the appropriate sentence for her actions.

She said: "It was a low-value shop theft and nothing more. Ms Richardson has since sorted herself out and has done so without the help of any local substance abuse agencies, which is an indication of the determination she has shown. She is no longer using heroin and isn't on a methadone programme. She also doesn't drink any alcohol.

"She is doing incredibly well for herself and is soon moving to Oxfordshire to live with family where she is hoping for a fresh start. They have lined up a job for her where she will be working in a call centre. She will also be away from other drug users. Therefore I would ask you to grant her a conditional discharge."

While discharging Richardson for 18 months, magistrates warned her that should she re-offend in future, then a court in Oxfordshire would still be able to sentence her for the theft of the cigarettes in addition to any new offence.

Richardson was also ordered to pay court costs of £85 in addition to a victim surcharge of £15. Magistrates also said that she must pay back £20.40 to Stretton Village Stores by way of compensation for the cigarettes which she had stolen.

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