Woman stole £300 worth of groceries from Tesco and said it was 'theft to eat'

Woman stole £300 worth of groceries from Tesco and said it was 'theft to eat'

A WOMAN who was involved in taking £300 worth of groceries from Tesco in Antrim town claimed it was "theft to eat" because she had no money after stepping in to pay off a debt to "drug dealers" on behalf of another person.

Laura O'Neill (28), of Rosebank Court, Belfast, admitted theft in relation to April 23 this year.

Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, heard a number of females entered the store and loaded two trolleys with items and left without paying.

Details of O'Neill's car were given to police and she admitted involvement but had refused to name who else was there, the court heard.

The goods were not recovered.

The defendant had a previous record.

A defence solicitor said the theft happened because although the defendant's benefits usually provided her with enough money for her family, she had stepped into the breach to pay off a "debt" another person had accrued with "sinister elements in the community."

The defendant told the court she was not proud of taking the goods from Tesco but she was in a "difficult situation" regarding "drug dealers" who had demanded money saying they would "hurt" the other person.

District Judge Nigel Broderick imposed a three months prison term, suspended for 18 months, and ordered that compensation was paid for the stolen goods.