A serial thief who raided stores across Belfast was spared jail on Friday - because she is pregnant.
Annie McDonagh, 29, stole goods with a total value of more than £500 during six separate bouts of shoplifting.
Her targets in a crime blitz from August to October last year included a TK Maxx outlet in Boucher Retail Park, a filling station on the Upper Lisburn Road and a discount store in the west of the city.
McDonagh, of Ballymurphy Parade in Belfast, was convicted of six counts of theft.
A judge at the city’s magistrate’s court was told she stole the goods - including a child’s trolley - after being dealt with for other offences.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing a defence solicitor revealed McDonagh is pregnant with her third child, due in June.
He claimed an older man had been her “partner in crime” during the thefts.
Recognising both the defendant’s pregnant condition and record, District judge Alan White decided to defer sentencing for a year.
He told McDonagh: “You deserve custody for this, there’s no doubt about that.”
But he said a report prepared for the case had shown she may have “changed her ways”.
“Hopefully with a birth happening, and with the interests of your child at heart, you will stay out of trouble,” he added.
Deferring the final outcome until March 2016, Judge White warned she will be going to jail if she re-offended between now and then. ends