A notorious shoplifter from Kent has managed to avoid a prison sentence once more. Heroin addict Vanessa Hamilton (45) of Farleigh Lane, Barming stole alcohol, trousers and a handbag ‘because she liked the look of them’ in June last year.
At Maidstone Court last week, Magistrates heard Ms Hamilton has 38 previous convictions for theft and was only released from prison two years ago.
Prosecuting, Nesisa Ndhlovu said: “At 11.30am on Saturday, June 13, the defendant entered Sainsbury’s in Romney Place and was seen on CCTV taking two bottles of alcohol and attempting to leave the store. Miss Hamilton then barged past the security officer who was only able to retrieve one bottle from her. Officers nearby were alerted of the theft and found the defendant in the town centre with multiple shopping bags from Marks and Spencer’s, with a pair of stolen linen trousers inside. A brown leather handbag from Clarks was also found with the security label still attached.”
our court system needs a good shake up
Her defence lawyer said: “Miss Hamilton hears voices in her head, and she tells me there was no planning involved in these thefts. Drugs have consumed her life for so many years and this is a lifestyle she is very accustomed to. She is certain this is the last time she’ll be in court.” Although the voices in her head may say something different.
The court heard Hamilton now drinks only two glasses of prosecco a day, which is a “big improvement” as it used to be “an entire case of cider” a day. Most people would like to be able to afford two glasses of Prosecco a day.
Hamilton pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and was given a 12-month community order with a curfew of 7am to 7pm for three months. She was also ordered to pay a fine of £85 in court costs. It’s incredible just how cheap court costs are, considering how many people need to be present.
Chairman of the bench, Alvin Shaw said: “I don’t need to remind you how serious this is. It’s very important you commit yourself to paying off these outstanding debts, as I’m sure you do not want to go to prison again.” .
The punchline to the story is that Ms Hamilton has outstanding court fines of more than £1,500. It is not our place to say that she should return to prison, but what is the point of ordering someone to pay £85 in court costs when they already owe nearly 2 grand! Why are our courts so lenient on repeat offenders? At a rate of paying £5 a week, it will only take the poor lady 317 weeks to pay this off. That is if she has any money left over after her daily two glasses of Prosecco!