Mum jailed over for Just £10 jeans

Alison Hewitt, 27 and from Patterson Park, didn’t expect a custodial sentence after she was unanimously found guilty of theft by a jury after a four-day trial at Londonderry Crown Court in December. 

On Wednesday, she appeared for sentencing without an overnight bag and unaccompanied by any of her family. But she was led away in handcuffs to spend three months behind bars. Ms Hewitt has a three-year-old daughter. The charges arose after she took three pairs of jeans into the changing room of a shop in Derry city centre in 2009. A shop assistant challenged her when she emerged with two pairs. Ms Hewitt left the shop and was arrested by police outside. A pair of jeans was found in her daughter’s pram. She denied stealing them.

 In court on Wednesday, the woman was visibly upset and wept as the sentence was handed down. Her solicitor immediately lodged an appeal, arguing for a community service order instead – due to the “detrimental effect” of a custodial sentence on Ms Hewitt’s little girl. The judge said that was a matter for the Court of Appeal. It’s estimated that Ms Hewitt’s stay in prision will cost taxpayers over £20,000.

 The appeal is now due to be heard on Friday