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Judge tells shoplifting mum: 'I don't believe you for a second'

Thatcham woman's story fails to impress court

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

court gavel

A MOTHER who left a Tesco store with £758 worth of shopping said she was flustered when security detained her – because she had paid in full.

The Thatcham 50-year-old insisted she had settled in cash and was stunned when a store manager asked her to accompany her to a secure room.

But on Monday, July 29, a district judge sitting at Reading Magistrates’ Court told her: “There’s no doubt in my mind. I don’t believe you for a second.”

In the dock was Mandy Townsend, who lives at The Haywards and who, the court heard, had never been in trouble with the law before.

The prosecution claimed Ms Townsend had been stopped as she tried to leave without paying.

She insisted she had paid with cash but, upon being asked for a receipt, said her daughter, who was elsewhere in the store, had it, the court heard.

A store manager said: “I never saw any daughter.

“She then said she would come back tomorrow and pay for the items.

“I said that was unacceptable.

“I asked her to come to our detention room at the back of the store.

“I then phoned the police.”

But Ms Townsend denied stealing goods worth £758.75 from Tesco in Newbury on February 23.

Giving evidence in her defence, she told a different story, denying she had claimed her daughter had the receipt.

Ms Towsend said she had gone shopping in Newbury and had intended to meet with her 25-year-old daughter Sharn in the Tesco store.

Meanwhile, she added, “I just browsed round the shop and put items in my trolley.

“I didn’t intend to leave the shop, I just went into the foyer to see if she had arrived.

“I’m sure I did pay. Then I went back to see if Sharn was in there.

“I told a security guard I was leaving the shopping there because, if I didn’t find Sharn, how was I going to get it home?

“I said I’d have to come back tomorrow.”

She was also found to be carrying three pairs of spectacles from the store but insisted she thought these had been “free samples” or that she was allowed to try them on at home before returning them.

Ms Townsend said she was shocked when a woman approached her and told her to follow her into a back room, which she did without question.

She added: “I was never going to steal anything and I never would.”

Jan Davies, defending, conceded that “some of what she said might sound confusing” and that more than £750 in cash was a lot of money to be carrying.

But she pointed out that her client had no previous convictions and had been distressed to be accused.

District judge Davinder Lachhar told Ms Townsend: “If you had paid, then when people asked and when police arrived you could have said: ‘I’ll show you which till; I’ll show you the person I just paid.’

“You went into the foyer and took some glasses, then said you were going to take them home.

“You know how shopping works; you’ve been shopping before.”

She added: “There’s no doubt in my mind. I don’t believe you for a second. I find you guilty of this offence.”

She made Ms Townsend subject to a 12-month community order with 15 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement.

In addition Ms Townsend was ordered to pay £200 costs, plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.

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