A SERIAL thief has walked free from court after clocking up her 136th criminal conviction.
Melissa Sloanes, who has been given “chance after chance after chance” was already on a variety of court orders when she went on her latest shoplifting spree at Tesco in Sunderland.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 31-year-old tried to walk out of the Newcastle Road store with a trolley packed with over £144 worth of stolen clothes.
At the time of the theft last month, the mother-of-two was the subject of a deferred sentence for shoplifting from a chemist, a suspended sentence and a conditional discharge imposed by magistrates for similar offending.
The court heard more than 50 of her previous convictions are for theft and similar offences.
Sloanes, of no fixed address, has now been given what a judge said was her “last chance”.
She was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision requirements.
Mr Recorder Steven Coupland told her: “For the last 17 years you have committed 53 offences of theft and the like, you have been an absolute nuisance.
“You were given chance after chance after chance with various different orders, all with the aim of trying to turn you away from what was becoming a spate of offending.
“You didn’t take any of those chances.”
The judge said what persuaded him to suspend the prison sentence was the “glimmer of a chance” Sloanes has changed her ways after coming off drugs and completing a training course.
He warned her: “You steal even one thing from a pound shop and you are going to prison.”
Julian Smith, defending, said Sloanes is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after she was the victim of a brutal stabbing that almost left her for dead and means she had been using drugs to cope with “living an abject fear” since her attacker was released.
Mr Smith said Sloanes is willing to work with those trying to help her live a crime free life.