Shoplifters are given suspended sentences

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A couple described by the judge as ‘professional shoplifters’ were given suspended prison sentences last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

They were Vygandas Petryla (39) and Jolanta Petryliene (37), both of Watson Street, Portadown.

They had pleaded guilty at a previous court to stealing flasks worth £15 from TK Maxx on January 9 this year.

Sentencing was adjourned so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.

The court heard that they were seen on CCTV putting items in a bag and walking out without paying.

When police went to their house the items were recovered.

A barrister representing Petryla said there was an element of sophistication to the offence.

He added that his client had received a conditional discharge for a previous offence and the court may feel that the custody threshold may be met.

The barrister urged the judge to leave something hanging over the head of his client.

A barrister representing Petryliene said that she had only one previous conviction.

District Judge, Mrs Bernie Kelly, said that they chose to steal above their 17-year-old son’s welfare.

She asked if there was someone to look after the son if she sent the defendants to jail because they were facing an immediate custodial sentence.

Judge Kelly said the couple were ‘professional shoplifters’ who stole property to sell on and they knew if they got caught they could go to prison.

“I can’t understand how anybody could do that to their own child,” she added.

The judge said that if the defendants had perhaps received a more severe penalty the last time they might have thought twice about doing it again.

She added that there was no doubt the custody threshold was crossed and there was only one sentence she could impose.

Judge Kelly added that she would normally impose immediate custody but would stay her hand on this occasion because of the couple’s modest previous convictions, their pleas of guilty and family needs.

She sentenced both defendants to nine months in prison but suspended the sentences for two years.