A serial shoplifter from Dublin who returned to Belfast to steal hundreds of pounds worth of home furnishings has avoided jail once more.
Julie Anne Joyce was told “the cards have fallen very lucky” because she targeted a Laura Ashley store a month before receiving a suspended sentence for a previous thieving spree.
Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer QC said: “I could send you immediately to prison because it’s quite clear you engage in theft in some sort of commercial way.”
Instead, however, he extended her existing suspended term from eight to ten months.
Joyce, 23, pleaded guilty to stealing a lamp and two picture frames valued at £222 from a Laura Ashley branch at Boucher Crescent in the city on August 2 this year.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard she was stopped as she exited the store with the goods.
Joyce, with a previous address at Edenmore Walk in the Raheny area of Dublin, allegedly provided another name and different date of birth when first detained.
Her previous record include stealing more than £3,000 worth of clothes during a one-day shoplifting spree in Belfast.
She targeted 10 different city centre stores in October 2016, using a magnet as part of that crime operation.
On that occasion clothing was stolen from House of Fraser, River Island, Marks & Spencer, Next, Gap, Top Shop, Mamas & Papas, and The Disney Store.
She also raided Lifestyle Sports and JD Sports.
In September this year Joyce was handed an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, for those thefts.
Another judge was told an older woman who has since died was the driving force behind those offences.
As she returned to court, defence solicitor Pearse MacDermott stressed the new theft from Laura Ashley predated the imposition of that term.
Mr MacDermott also disclosed Joyce has a four-year-old daughter.
“She appreciates it’s a serious matter,” the lawyer added.
Giving credit for Joyce’s guilty plea, Mr Mateer pointed out that the latest offence was committed prior to being given another chance through the suspended sentence.
“In all the circumstances the cards have fallen very lucky for you because of the way you have come before the court,” he told her.
Imposing a further two months on to the suspended term, the judge said it was to reflect her “proclivity for thieving”.
Joyce was warned that any further offences between now and November 2020 could see her jailed for 10 months.
Following the hearing she spoke of putting all such behaviour behind her.
“That’s in the past,” she said as she left court.
“I’m being a good girl now.”