Serial Wigan shoplifter stole meat "to survive" after benefits were stopped

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

A Wigan shoplifter who helped herself to hundreds of pounds worth of meat from supermarkets, walked free from a court after it heard she had stolen the food to survive.

Shannon Burton was hauled before Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ court after stealing dozens of steaks on three occasions last year.

But the magistrates took pity on her after hearing how the 23-year-old had taken the items to feed herself, after she found herself without any money to live on.

Burton, who gave her address as Blakemore Park in Atherton, was given a conditional discharge after the bench heard details of her crimes.

Prosecuting, Tess Kenyon told the court how the shoplifting spree took place last year between April 17 and May 14.

On the first occasion, she walked into Aldi in Castle Street, Tyldesley, filled a carrier bag with 14 rump steaks worth £180, and walked out without paying.

She targeted the same Aldi store less than a fortnight later, this time helping herself to 15 rib-eye steaks worth £38.85, and again did not pay for the items.

Her final offence came on May 14, when she walked into a Co-op in Worsley and stole more meat.

The shop itself estimated the goods to be worth £100, though this figure was disputed by the court.

She was later tracked down by police, who questioned her over her shoplifting.

Burton said her memory of the incidents was “hazy”, but admitted walking into the stores with a reusable bag and filling it with the meat.

She revealed she had no money after her benefits were temporarily stopped, that she was behind on her rent and needed the food to live.

Defending, Ellie Akhgar said: “It saddens me to represent Ms Burton today.”

She claimed that “some people who have no previous convictions would not have committed offences” had it not been for austerity measures which left them without means of living.

“It was clearly a one-off period of time where her circumstances were desperate,” Ms Akhgar said.

“She is absolutely remorseful. She has no wish to continue any criminal lifestyle.”

She added: “I am respectfully asking you to consider how and why this offence came about.”

And her pleas appeared to be successful, with the justices handing Burton a 12 month conditional discharge. She must also pay back £218.85 to Aldi and £50 to the Co-Op.