Thief travelled miles to steal

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A shoplifter has admitted stealing hundreds of pounds worth of clothes from a flagship town centre store.

Joan Challinor travelled all the way from Liverpool with two of her friends to target the Marks and Spencer store.

St Helens Magistrates’ Court heard how Challinor, 45, was clocked entering the Church Street store with a friend at about 12.40pm on January 16.

Angela Blackmore, prosecuting, told how CCTV monitoring then showed both women leaving the store carrying large Marks and Spencer bags.

The duo ran across Church Square to load the bags into the boot of a waiting vehicle - but Challinor was quickly detained by a store security guard and the other two women drove off.

In total, some £744 worth of clothes were recovered.

Although Challinor had no previous convictions, the court was told she did have two out of court disposals against her name - both for theft.

Paul Potter, defending, said his client had made no threats to the security guard when stopped and that the goods had been recovered.

He told how Challinor, of Cherry Lane, Liverpool, had been in full time employment as a support worker before suffering a breakdown following the death of both her parents.

Mr Potter added that she fully accepted she was in the wrong.

District Judge Ian Lomax told the defendant: “You’ve pleaded guilty and have no previous convictions but what makes this more serious is that there was clearly some planning, it was a joint enterprise and the goods stolen were not of insignificant value.

“I’m not going to lock you up but I am going to ask the probation service to prepare a pre-sentence report.”

Challinor is due to be sentenced on February 26 and was granted unconditional bail.