Belfast mother used children in crime spree, court told


A Belfast mother used her young children in a crime spree targeting businesses across Greater Belfast, the High Court heard on Friday.

The 25-year-old woman’s son and daughter were unwitting distractions enabling her to steal from beauty salons, a pharmacist and dental surgery, prosecutors said.

She took handbags, cash, bank cards, a laptop computer and tablet in raids which also involved a mortgage shop, family centre, optician’s and office premises.

Details emerged as the woman failed to secure bail ahead of her appeal against a nine-month jail sentence imposed on her last week.

The accused, who is not being named for legal reasons, admitted a series of offences including theft, fraud and burglary.

Conor Maguire, prosecuting, said: “There was what police described as a crime spree by this applicant and others, but also involving her children.”

He told the court she had entered businesses with her six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, using them as a distraction to steal goods or staff belongings.

CCTV footage captured some of the offences committed between June and September last year.

Defence barrister Dennis Boyd argued that his client’s prison sentence could potentially be deferred.

But with her appeal due to be heard at Belfast Crown Court next week, he submitted that she should be given the chance to get her affairs in order.

Refusing bail, however, Mrs Justice Keegan said: “I do encourage the applicant to think about what she would be prepared to engage in to deal with this offending behaviour which is problematic for her and her family.”