Sunderland woman stole to pay for family funeral after running up debts with Wonga

Sunderland Magistrates' Court.
Sunderland Magistrates' Court.
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A bereaved Sunderland woman went on an £879 shoplifting spree to fund a family funeral.

Kriss Botham, 34, had found herself £600 in debt to payday lender Wonga as her family attempted to club together enough cash to pay for the send-off of a recently departed relative, Sunderland magistrates heard.

A relative had died and the family had to get money together for the funeral

Heather Bolton, defending

In desperation, Botham turned to crime, stealing £500 worth of Fred Perry clothing from Debenhams and £122 of children’s clothes from Pep & Co, both in The Bridges, on November 25. And on December 10, she made off with £257 worth of goods from Asda. Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “She is seen in Debenhams by the loss prevention officer and is detained by security staff after she is seen to take a number of items of clothing from Fred Perry into the changing rooms.

“She is then seen leaving the changing area without the clothing but carrying two rather large bags and leaves the store, she is found with wire cutters, used to de-tag the items, and a number of tags were discovered pushed under a chair in the changing rooms.”

Botham was detained outside the store and was found to have 14 items of children’s clothing from Pep & Co , still with the price tags attached. All goods were recovered.

On December 19 she was seen in Asda Leechmere by a security guard putting items in a shopping bag, returning later the same day. She had hidden the £257 haul, which included a hair dryer, toys and Christmas decorations, under fallen leaves near the store.

Botham, of Hendon Valley Road, Hendon, admitted three counts of theft.

Heather Bolton, defending, said: “The offending occurred partly because of the Christmas period and partly because a relative had died and the family had to get money together for the funeral.

“She began getting payday loans and money borrowed from Wonga. That began to spiral out of control and she couldn’t afford to live. She has been to Citizens’ Advice Bureau to seek help in relation to her finances and Wonga have agreed to reduce the payments she has to pay and are no longer taking it out of her bank account, She is £600 in debt to Wonga.

“She has also been in contact with the benefits agency as she wasn’t claiming everything she was entitled to.”

Botham was sentenecd to a 12-month community order with up to 20 days of specified activity and was fined £50 with £85 costs and £60 victim surcharge.