Belfast Telegraph

Granny-led family shoplifting ring for jail if caught again

By Eamonn MacDermott

An organised family shoplifting gang consisting of a grandmother and two of her granddaughters have been warned that if they appear in court again they are going straight to prison.

Appearing at Londonderry Magistrates Court was Jessie Powell (65), of Ballycolman estate in Strabane, who faced six counts of theft of goods totalling more than £800 from premises in Derry and Castlederg on February 12 and 13 last year.

Her granddaughter Carol Ann McElhinney (28), also of Ballycolman estate, faced six similar charges, while another granddaughter, Rebecca McElhinney (18), of Mount Sion in Strabane, faced one count of theft on February 12.

The court was told that on February 12 three females entered a chemist's in Castlederg and made off with goods valued at £235.61 before being seen getting away in a car. On February 13 two females stole goods from a Harry Corry outlet in Derry valued at more than £40.

Later a car matching the same description was seen at Crescent Link in the city and when police approached they found two females in the vehicle along with a quantity of stolen goods.

Carol Ann McElhinney admitted to police she had taken the items from the Harry Corry shop, and also where police would find other stolen goods in her home.

Jessie Powell denied being involved in the thefts.

Before listening to defence pleas, District Judge Barney McElholm warned barristers not to try and argue that this was anything but an organised shoplifting ring as this would be "insulting everyone's intelligence".

He said: "These three people don't understand what the truth is. This is clearly a premeditated, organised spate of shoplifting in Castlederg and Derry."

Defence barristers asked for credit for the trio on the grounds of their early plea.

Judge McElholm said that Rebecca McElhinney had been brought into the shoplifting ring and sentenced her to two months in prison suspended for 12 months.

Jessie Powell and Carol Ann McElhinney were sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for three years and fined £300.

All three were warned if they appeared again they would go to jail.

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