A 27-year-old single parent wept in court yesterday after she was jailed for three months for stealing a pair of jeans valued at £10.
It was the first time Alison Hewitt of Patterson Park in Strabane, Co Tyrone, was ever convicted of a criminal offence.
Ms Hewitt, the mother of a three-year-old girl, was unanimously convicted of the theft following a four-day jury trial at the crown court in Londonderry last December.
She had denied stealing the jeans from the Supertramp shop at Strand Road in the city on August 20, 2009.
Her defence barrister, Mr Martin McCann, told Judge Piers Grant that he would be lodging an immediate appeal against the sentence.
Judge Grant said Hewitt’s offence was “mean, premeditated and brazen” and added that she had turned down several opportunities to own up when challenged by the shop assistant and by the police who found the stolen jeans inside her baby’s pram when Hewitt was stopped in Waterloo Place after she’d left the shop.
“The jury was told that she was given three pairs of jeans to try on in the fitting room but she returned only two.
“When challenged about the jeans in her child’s pram she told the police they had been given to her as a present the previous week.
“It is clear that on this occasion her conduct was premeditated, quite deliberate and quite calculated.
“She was challenged a number of times but she decided to brazen it out,” he said.
Mr McCann had earlier told the court that a pre-sentence report stated that Hewitt had been assessed as presenting a low likelihood of reoffending and that a community service order mentioned in the report would be beneficial both to her and to the community.
“She is a first time offender for a minor offence,” he said.