A weeping mother-of-two accused of stealing a packet of Tesco school shirts valued at £5.25 has gone on trial at Belfast Crown Court.
Prosecution lawyer Ian Tannahill said it did not matter if 40-year-old Eileen Millar was accused of taking a hundred pounds or a thousand, or simply a pack of shirts, it was still an important matter.
He added that if, like Mrs Millar, they the jury or any member of their family were accused of being a thief, they too had the right to demand the matter be settled by a jury of their peers.
Mrs Millar, from Lyndhurst View Close, Belfast, was arrested in Tesco's Ballygomartin store on August 22, 2009 moments after putting spare change in a charity box after paying for a trolley of groceries.
She claims that “it was a genuine mistake” when she “completely forgot” about the pack of three boys’ short-sleeved school shirts.
It was claimed that she had hung on the back of the trolley to avoid them being soiled by other goods.
Mrs Millar told her lawyer Jonathan Connolly that as she walked round the store shopping, the packet of shirts was hung on a hook at the back of the trolley.
It rested against a Tesco bag which was already there, and she later hung the straps of her handbag on the same hook, but with the bag inside the trolley itself.
Clutching a tissue and wiping away tears, Mrs Millar further claimed that she was also distracted for a time by her 13-year-old son, who was acting up, messing around with another trolley at the checkout.
“It was a genuine mistake. I honestly didn't see it (the packet of shirts) with the Tesco bag and the handbag there,” she said.
Later she refuted suggestions from Mr Tanahill that while she may never have set out to steal the shirts, she thought she would “take a chance” at the checkout, and that it was a simple case of her “giving way to temptation”.
“It's one thing I have never done and never would do,” said Mrs Millar.
The case continues today, when after the jury hears final submissions it will retire to consider its verdict.