Sunderland drug addict gets hooked on cocaine, aged 50

Sainsbury's, The Galleries, Washington.

Sainsbury's, The Galleries, Washington.

A woman who took up drugs at the age of 50 found herself in court after stealing £900 worth of goods from a supermarket to fund her addiction.

Julie Ann Raw started using cocaine and amphetamine when she was invited to a party only a few months ago, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Unfortunately a friend invited her to his party and introduced her to cocaine three or four months ago

Ian Hodgson, defending

When she became hooked, the 50-year-old ran up debts with a loan shark to pay for her habit, then took to shoplifting to pay them off.

On three occasions in May and June, Raw stole a mixture of electrical items, beauty products, perfume, homeware and food – worth a total of 904.58 – and all from Sainsbury’s at The Galleries, Washington.

Prosecutor Justin Gibson said Raw spent two-and-a-half hours in the store on the afternoon of May 9, before leaving with items worth £321.

And at 2.50pm on May 22, she was seen on CCTV, leaving the same store with a trolley containing £165 worth of goods.

She then returned at on June 7, walking out of the store at 6.15pm with a trolley full of items, worth £534.58. She was caught in the act and the goods were returned.

Raw, of Bedale Street, Hetton, was arrested and pleaded guilty to three counts of theft. She is already subject to a suspended prison sentence, the court heard.

Ian Hodgson, defending, said Raw has been through a number of difficult relationships and had “complex” health issues.

Mr Hodgson said she owes £12,000 to a loan shark but is getting advice from a women’s organisation.

“There was a gap between 2000 and 2012 when there were no offences at all.

“Unfortunately a friend invited her to his party and introduced her to cocaine three or four months ago.

“This turned into a cocaine and amphetamine habit.

“She can’t afford that habit. This is essentially why this has happened.”

Probation officer Alan Cutting, who carried out an assessment on Raw, said: “This drug habit has only been in place for the last three-and-a-half months, it’s a very new development in her personal circumstances.

“She was using cocaine and amphetamine, now only using cocaine, the drug issue is new. We are trying to get that sorted out fairly quickly through outside agencies.”

The bench chose not to activate the suspended sentenced, instead making its conditions more onerous.

She will also be subject to a three-month tagged curfew between 7pm and 7am and will have to pay £481 in compensation.