Thief not jailed due to full prisons

THIEF Angela Brown stole from her grandmother days after receiving a suspended prison sentence for another theft - but will not face jail because Britain's prisons are overcrowded.

THIEF Angela Brown stole from her grandmother days after receiving a suspended prison sentence for another theft - but will not face jail because Britain's prisons are overcrowded.

stole hundreds of pounds from her grandmother's bank account while in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed in August for stealing £500 from a Christmas club fund.

When the 26-year-old appeared at Ipswich Crown Court, yesterday she was told she was “extremely lucky” as she was being given a last chance to change her ways.

Recorder Martyn Levett told the court: “It seems she doesn't understand or empathise with victims of crime and that's going to continue if she goes to prison for whatever term.

“It's one of those cases where because of the overpopulated prison population and because of the necessary short sentences a judge would have to pass in light of the type of offence that perhaps more good might be achieved by flexing muscles with regards to a suspended sentence, making it more severe and making her undertake more unpaid work as a last chance.”

The recorder extended Brown's initial jail sentence to 12 months, suspended for two years, and increased her unpaid work order to 300 hours, which has to be completed in the next 24 months.

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She was also made subject of a supervision order for a period of two years.

A spokesman for the Howard League for Penal Reform said the prison population in England and Wales reached an all-time high of 81,533 last week - 20,000 more than 10 years ago.

He said: “There are a lot of people who do not need to be in prison who could be dealt with by community sentences. If that was the case, there would be spaces free for someone like this where they have actually breached a suspended sentence as it is.

“The judges' hands are forced because there are literally no jail cells.”

Brown, of Turin Street, Ipswich, was found guilty in August of stealing £500 from the Christmas club at Kesgrave Sports and Social Club, where she was employed as assistant manager.

She was handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to carry out 120 hours' of unpaid work in the community.

But she was back in court yesterday after admitting failing to comply with the suspended sentence, four new offences of theft - including one of taking a car tax disc - and one of attempted theft.

The court heard that within days of the original suspended sentence being made, Brown had visited her grandmother and while the 67-year-old left her alone in the house, she stole her bank card and pin number making three withdrawals of £100, £150 and £160.

In sentencing, Mr Levett said he bore in mind the fact Brown's grandmother said she wanted her granddaughter to get the help she needed and he said a short prison sentence would not be long enough to provide her with that rehabilitation.

n. What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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