Belfast Telegraph

Ex-addict Kerry Lewis who stole jewellery from mum and gran avoids jail

By John Cassidy

A shop worker who stole £35,000 worth of "sentimental" family jewellery to feed her drug habit has avoided jail.

Kerry Lewis was told that "stealing high-value jewellery were mean-spirited acts" on her mother and grandmother.

Handing down a 34-month sentence, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he would suspend it for three years as Lewis had the case hanging over her for almost the past two years, had turned her life around and was now the mother of a five-week-old child.

Lewis (20), now of Market Place, Carrickfergus, had pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to stealing £15,000 of jewellery belonging to her mother Fiona Clarke and £20,000 worth of jewellery from her grandmother Margaret Lusty between April and August 2016.

She further admitted charges of being concerned in the supply of ecstasy tablets and herbal cannabis.

A number of other drugs charges were "left on the books in the usual terms".

Prosecution lawyer Gareth Purvis said that in 2016 Lewis had a "falling out" with her mother while the two of them were living with the defendant's elderly grandmother at her home in Glengormley, Co Antirm.

The court heard that in June of that year the defendant's mother and grandmother noticed "high-value items of jewellery had been stolen from their bedrooms".

The defendant had stolen the items to buy drugs and had also got into debt with dealers over her habit.

Mr Purvis said police later recovered some of the jewellery from a stall holder at Hillview car boot sale on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast who said he paid Lewis £2,640 for the items, which "only represented a small amount".

Defence barrister Denis Boyd said Lewis was "genuinely remorseful about the theft of the jewellery and she feels ashamed about that".

He added that since the incident she had "turned her life around" by cutting off all ties with those she used to buy drugs from, had stopped taking drugs, had got a new job at a Belfast city centre retail outlet and recently became a mother for the first time.

Passing sentence, Judge Miller described it as "a sad case", saying not only was the jewellery of high value but also that the "sentimental value of the jewellery was irreplaceable".

He added that because Lewis had been living with her mother and grandmother at the time of the thefts, the insurance policy had been invalidated and the stolen items would never be replaced.

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