Colne mum (28) walks free after flouting earlier court sentence

Burnley Magistartes Court.
Burnley Magistartes Court.
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A mum spared jail after pinching a mobile phone from an unconscious disabled man has walked free again, after repeatedly flouting the sentence she received.

Emma Woods (28) had stolen the £499 phone from vulnerable Andrew Moulding’s pocket as he lay on the floor in Colne Tesco, in September 2013. Mr Moulding (47), who had previously suffered a stroke, was having a seizure. He had just been attending a friend’s funeral.

Pennine magistrates had been told last April how Woods had claimed she would return Mr Moulding’s belongings to his family, but she kept the phone instead.

The bench, who had slammed her behaviour as “despicable” had imposed 20 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, with supervision and an alcohol programme to address her misuse of drink.

Last week, Woods, of Briercliffe Avenue, Colne, was back in the dock, where she admitted allegations of breaching the suspended sentence order by failing to report to and to keep in touch with her probation officer.

The court was told Woods had not attended probation since last October and there had been no contact since last December. Woods had also been ordered to pay her victim £499 compensation at the sentencing hearing, but just £5 had been paid in the year since.

Woods could have been locked up for her non-compliance, but kept her liberty again. Bench chairman Stephen Riley said the justices found it would be unjust to activate the suspended term as the defendant’s partner had died and she had mental health issues.

The magistrates extended the operational period of the suspended sentence and the supervision by three months and made a new collection order, so the compensation can be taken from Woods’ benefits.

Mr Riley told her: “Burying your head in the sand is no answer to anything.”

Mark Williams (defending) told the hearing the order seemed to have started off very well, but things really went wrong around last September/October. Accommodation had been an issue.

He said: “Perhaps it would have been more sensible to go back to probation and inform them, but she went the other way. She just cut off contact. She became significantly depressed and is still depressed, but does appear to be coming out of her issues.

“She has been to her doctor for the depression and they have referred her to the mental health service.

“It seems she is in a much more stable position now, to hopefully go back and complete the balance of the order.”

Mr Williams said Woods’ father had told her she needed to sort herself out and had asked her to “come home” and live with him, to have a base to start to sort through her problems. She had not been paying compensation because her benefits had been stopped, but she was now in receipt of employment and support allowance.