Serial thief raided B&M, TK Maxx, Heron, Savers and Sainsbury's, attacking staff and stealing goods

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A serial thief who assaulted four shop workers while committing thefts to feed her cocaine habit has been spared jail – after a last-minute change of mind by a judge.

District Judge Zoe Passfield told Emma Walton, 41, of Elemore Lane, Easington Lane, she had intended to put her behind bars for her often violent two-month crime spree.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But after hearing Walton had made tentative steps to change her ways, she imposed a suspended 18-week prison term, but warned: “You’ve numerous shop thefts and four assaults.

“The shop staff were only doing jobs, trying to stop you committing these thefts. You are a prolific shoplifter and you’ve shown absolutely no remorse.

“I had every intention for an immediate prison sentence. I’m still very much sitting on the fence, but I’m just persuaded to suspend this sentence.

“If you commit any breach, I will activate this immediately.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Walton attacked a female staff member at Heron Foods in Hetton while taking an unknown value of goods on Friday, February 2.

Two days later, she assaulted two male employees at Savers in Easington Lane while pinching a £40 bottle of perfume.

Her final assault came on Thursday, February 15, the day she stole £18 of goods from Savers in Houghton and £18 of beads from B&M and £260 of clothing from TK Max, both in Sunderland.

She also swiped £82 of food from Sainsbury’s in Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside, on Tuesday, January 2, and meat products to a value unknown from Heron Foods, again in Houghton, on Friday, February 9.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Walton’s spree also included five other thefts from Savers in Houghton, between Tuesday, January 23, and Wednesday, February 28, netting around £260 of stock.

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, she pleaded guilty to 11 counts of theft from a shop, four of assault by beating and one of failing to surrender to custody on Friday, March 22.

The court heard several of the thefts were committed in partnership with her female life partner, who has since been jailed.

Prosecutor Ruth Foster said: “There are four separate victims of common assault. All had minimal injuries. Guilty pleas were entered early, if not at the beginning.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

John Williams, defending, urged the judge to spare Walton prison, insisting the offender had been introduced to cocaine by her female lover, who was also her partner in some of her crimes.

He added: “She wasn’t into drugs before then. She had an alcohol problem but not drugs but drugs were introduced.

“It was goods to buy drugs. She is dealing with her drug problem. Her partner has received a short custodial sentence. Her partner is no longer on the scene.

“She needs to change her life. She needs to take the chances that she has been given. I think there’s a little glimmer of hope.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Judge Passfield jailed Walton for 12 weeks for each theft, to run concurrently, and to six weeks for each assault, to run concurrently to each other and consecutively to the thefts, suspended for two years.

She must complete 35 rehabilitation days and a nine-month drug rehabilitation order and pay £50 compensation to each assault victim and £82 to Sainsbury’s, £61 to Savers and £18 to B&M.

There were no court costs.