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Gloucestershire Business News

Prolific shoplifter caught thieving days after walking free from court

A prolific shoplifter who was given another 'last chance' to stay out of jail by a sympathetic judge last week is back behind bars after she was caught thieving again just five days after walking free from court.

At Gloucester Crown Court last Friday (March 19) Judge Ian Lawrie QC voiced his exasperation at Alisha Parke's failure to take advantage any of the chances of freedom that he has given to her.

"This is the third time Alisha Parke has thrown my goodwill towards her back in my face - this time it was just four days after I gave her a suspended jail sentence," he said.

"I told her that I was trying to help her. She chose to ignore this fact and decided to re-offend again. She is a persistent thief. The court has tried every alternative to custody.

"She has shown no regard, no restraint and no inhibition in these attempts.

"I have jumped through hoops for her. I didn't expect success straightaway, but I was hoping for a little bit of movement in the right direction. Committing an offence within five days does not show promise."

Matt Jackson, prosecuting, said: "On March 17th Parke entered Marks & Spencer's in Cheltenham - one of the stores she is barred from entering under the terms of a Criminal Behaviour Order. She was seen selecting a variety of items and placed them in her bag. These included shoes, trousers and jeans to a total value of £240.

"She attempted to leave the store, but was challenged by security staff because they knew she was banned from entering the shop. The stolen items were subsequently recovered."

Parke admitted breaching the Criminal Behaviour Order and a charge relating to the theft of the items from the M&S was withdrawn by the prosecutor.

Last week Judge Lawrie had imposed a suspended two year prison sentence on Parke for a series of offending which included numerous breaches of the Criminal Behaviour Order preventing her from entering any retail outlet in Gloucestershire (except for five approved stores) and other shoplifting offences.

The court heard that within a week after being paroled from prison in September 2020, Parke had shoplifted £137 worth of baby clothing from Next in Cheltenham.

Parke also stole bottles of perfumes from Asda in Gloucester on January 31 this year when she became abusive to staff when challenged about the thefts. She also entered the Marks & Spencer store in Eastgate Street, Gloucester, on February 4 this year in breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order banning her from the premises.

Parke told the judge on Friday: "I needed clothes. Everywhere else was shut. I had been wearing the same clothes ever since I got out of prison. I was desperate. I should have gone on the internet to get them."

Guy Wyatt, defending, said: "Admittedly this is consistent offending, but it is not that serious in terms of anti-social behaviour.

"However she has a clear understanding that she has been given every possible opportunity to prove herself, but has failed. She apologises for this.

"Parke has had a very catastrophic personal history. At the age of 12 she was taught by her mother to shoplift to fund her drug habit, a life which inevitably she got drawn into. She was physically abused during this period of her life.

"Parke explains that the promised accommodation that had been made available to her on release from court fell through and she spent a number of nights sleeping rough."

The judge then asked Parke if she was deliberately trying to get arrested? Parke responded in a meek voice by saying: "Yes - I need help. I am not safe to be on the streets."

In activating the two-year suspended jail sentence in full, Judge Lawrie told Parke: "You are being sentenced for breaching a suspended sentence order that I only imposed a week ago.

"But within five days of being released from court you breached your Criminal Behaviour Order. I am not unsympathetic to your situation and that you had a difficult life - however your offending is becoming the hallmark to the rest of your life.

"The court has tried to give you a sentence that offers you support, help and encouragement to address the problems in your life.

"You have tested my patience beyond endurance. You have also tested my sense of compassion. I feel that in light of your behaviour I have no choice of imposing a custodial term. You really need to learn some discipline.

"I am activating in full the suspended sentence and with a small element of concession the punishment for the additional breach of your court order you will be sentenced to one year in prison, which will be concurrent to the overall sentence, so your time behind bars remains the same."

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