HIV misdiagnosis led to crime spree by young heroin addict
A young heroin addict who suffered major distress after being falsely diagnosed with HIV by a prison doctor, has avoided jail after admitting to stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods to fund her habit.
Kelsey Brown, of Hilda Street in Leigh, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft during a hearing at Wigan Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning.
The 21-year-old admitted to taking more than £300 of goods including spirits, from a Sainsbury’s store, £187 worth of goods from Asda and £49 of goods from B&M bargains to fund her £20-a-day heroin habit.
The court heard how Brown, who was released from prison in December last year, has been on post-sentence supervision and had been in rehab when she was recalled to prison in March only to be told that she had HIV.
A probation officer told magistrates: “This caused her great distress. She has since found out that it was untrue.
“She has relapsed on drugs as you have heard. She intended to sell the goods for drugs, she takes £20 of heroin daily.
“She denied taking anything else but she tested positive for cocaine at the police station following her arrest.”
Karen Moorfield, who defended the young woman, told the court about Brown’s troubled past, which includes a stint in a young offenders’ institute for violence towards members of her family.
“Her first offences were domestic in nature due to a fall out at the family home,” said Mrs Moorfield. “It was an uncomfortable situation in that her mum had a new partner. the defendant backlashed.
“There were occasions she contemplated running away from home. She fell in with the wrong crowd and started taking drugs at 15.
“She met a man 15 years her senior, who was an avid drug user and shoplifter.
“That spiral just continued pulling her further away from her parents, her mum felt she was unreachable.”
The man in question died, which Mrs Moorfield said has been a “wake up call” for Brown, who is back living at her mum’s address.
A probation worker suggested that magistrates consider giving Brown a drug rehabilitation order as well as rehabilitation activity requirements.
“She accepts this has been a relapse,” said the probation officer. “She wants to move on with her life.”
Magistrates agreed with the recommendations but also handed Brown a 14-week jail sentence suspended for a year.
She was also ordered to pay £562.80 in compensation to the stores.