Grandmother stole £1,000 of clothing from Sports Direct in Sunderland to pay off drug debt

A woman stole more than £1,000 of clothes from Sports Direct in Sunderland in an attempt to pay off a £400 drugs debt.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th July 2019, 3:35 pm
The incident happened at Sports Direct in Sunderland. Picture: Google Streetview

Joanne Matthews, 43, was stopped by security at the High Street West store, who found £224 worth of T-shirts in her bag that she had not paid for.

She was recognised as the same woman who made off with £966 of stolen clothing on a previous occasion.

Matthews, a grandmother, appeared in the dock at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and one of failing to appear at court.

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Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “Members of staff saw Ms Matthews in the store.

“They confirmed that she had been in the store on June 4 and had stolen clothing to the value of £966 before making off.

“She is cautioned and arrested. At Southwick Police Station she says that she went into the shop [and] put items in her bag.

“Her intention was to sell them to pay off a drugs debt.”

Defence solicitor Ms Smith said Matthews has a ‘longstanding history of drug misuse’ that continues to this day.

She added: “She had a £400 drug debt to pay off and was driven out of the area of Middlesbrough.

“If she did not steal the goods and bring them back to these people she would be assaulted.”

Magistrates’ told Matthews, of Fakenham Avenue in Middlesbrough, this was her ‘last chance’, sentencing her to a 12-month community order.

She must attend 20 rehabilitation activity days, a nine-month drug rehabilitation course and pay £200 compensation.