Shoplifter stashed items in child’s buggy

Ballymena Magistrates Court
Ballymena Magistrates Court

A woman who stole £34.50 worth of clothing from Primark in Ballymena’s Tower Centre stashed the items in the bottom of a child’s buggy, the local court heard on Thursday.

Semerda Petrache (24), of Smithfield Place in Ballymena, committed the offence on March 9 this year and pleaded guilty.

A prosecutor said a security officer told police he saw the defendant place items in a shopping bag which was in the bottom of the buggy before she left without making any attempt to pay.

The goods were fit for re-sale.

When interviewed the defendant, whose language is Romanian, admitted concealing the clothing and said she had gone to the shop with £25 to buy clothes for her son but when she realised she had not enough money to pay for them she made a spur of the moment decision to steal.

She denied entering the store with the intention of stealing and said she felt “foolish” and “embarrassed”.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine (James Ballentine & Son) said his client had apologised and the offence happened when she was under “considerable financial difficulties”.

He said the defendant had two children and was the “breadwinner”.

Mr Ballentine said his client had already paid out £150 in a “civil matter” related to the case after she received a letter making reference to a security firm regarding “administration costs”.

The lawyer said he didn’t believe such actions were “enforceable” but that the defendant had already paid the money.

Mr Ballentine said the defendant was “ashamed of her actions” by stealing from the shop.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said he could give credit for an early guilty plea and the fact that the defendant had no previous convictions at court and he noted she had already “reimbursed” £150.

He fined the defendant £100 and said: “She must understand if she steals again it will not be a fine the next time”.

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