A one-day shop lifting spree, totalling almost £500 in goods, has seen a 28-year-old woman receive a four-month prison sentence.

Julia Stokes, who is currently serving time in Hydebank for other offences, appeared via video link at Fermanagh Magistrates Court this week.

The crime spree took place on July 31 2018 and involved thefts from Cara Pharmacy, New Look and JD Sports.

The prosecution revealed to the court that Stokes was a “repeat offender” and that a manager at the New Look store in the Erneside Shopping Centre had followed Stokes after seeing her steal a pair of jeans. Confronted by security guards the court heard that Stoke dropped a number of bags and made off out of the shopping centre.

Upon inspection several other stolen items were identified in the bags from both Cara Pharmacy and JD Sports. Staff from both stores confirmed the items as stolen and CCTV showed Stokes putting the jeans in the bag in New Look.

In total items to the value of £22.99 were stolen from New Look, £163 from Cara Pharmacy and £261 from Sports Direct.

Defence Barrister Stefan Rafferty stated that the incident dated back almost 18 months and that he “was at a loss as to why it had taken so long to come before the court”.

He went on to say that other offences that had taken place around the same time had already been tried and his client had been prosecuted for these offences and was serving prison sentences for them.

He told the court that Stokes release date was this Thursday and that “every time she gets a release date another charge appears, and it is a very frustrating process for her”.

Mr. Rafferty said that while in Hydebank Stokes had “made progress” and was in the process of “obtaining a number of qualifications” and that she had been named “student of the week” recently.

He told the court that the Housing Executive were in the process of evicting her for missed payments and that her future was uncertain upon her release.

Mr. Rafferty also said that Stokes was stealing for family and friends and for birthday and Christmas gifts and that while this did not excuse her actions it did give them some context.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said in his judgement that Stokes was her “own worst enemy”.

He sentenced Stokes to four months for each offence.