Clacton shoplifter in ‘£900 trolley dash’ from Tesco Copdock is spared jail

Stock image of Tesco at the Copdock Interchange, Ipswich.

Stock image of Tesco at the Copdock Interchange, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

A woman who went into a Tesco superstore with 28p in her purse attempted to leave with groceries worth nearly £900 in a ‘trolley dash’, a court heard.

Nicola Whitbread pleaded guilty at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court to theft from the company’s store at Copdock.

The goods the 42-year-old, of Swift Avenue, Jaywick, near Clacton, stole on Wednesday came to £883 in total.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablett said: “She simply fills up a trolley while in Tesco with nearly £900 of goods.”

Whitbread was detained as she left the store and police were called.

Mr Ablett added: “She only had 28 pence in her purse and went out with the intention to steal the items and sell them on to fund a drugs’ habit.”

The court was told Whitbread, who had 26 convictions for 54 previous offences including 29 thefts – said to police she had been let down by drug treatment agency Open Road in Clacton.

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She was supposed to have been given a prescription for the heroin substitute methadone after she came out of prison but this had not happened.

Whitbread had previously been jailed for 12 weeks in May.

Lyndon Davies, representing Whitbread who listened to proceedings via a video link from Martlesham police headquarters, described it as “somewhat of a sad case”.

Whitbread began offending in 2002, but only started what Mr Davies said was “this sort of offending” around 2011 when she was aged 37.

Whitbread had been the victim of a serious assault with a hammer which started her descent into drugs. She sought to cope with the problems she was having as a consequence of the assault by using drugs.

Magistrates were told she used them as a coping mechanism.

Mr Davies explained there had been some issues with appointments at Open Road and there had been spells where Whitbread had been unable to get methadone.

He said: “The day before this incident happened she relapsed, had a bit of a binge on drugs and was basically having to pay for those drugs. It was a classic sort of trolley dash to pay for those.”

Magistrates sentenced Whitbread to 10 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.

She must also pay £115 to the victims’ fund.