The defendant, Patricia Richards, leaves the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court. (iWN photo)

A 41-year-old woman who was caught on camera placing items in a shopping trolley while her son, then 8 years old, placed them in bag, has been ordered to compensate the supermarket for the items.

Further, the woman, Patricia Richards, was bonded for one year. If she breaks the bond, the mother of two would have to pay the court EC$1,500 forthwith or go to prison for six months.

She has until Feb. 28 to pay the supermarket EC$110.33

Richards, on her fifth appearance before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, pleaded guilty, on Friday, to a charge that on April 27, 2019, at Kingstown, she stole one choc ice, one strawberry swirl cheesecake, one antiseptic liquid, one bottle of Limacol, one Ju-C lemonade, and one flea/tick powder, valued at EC$110.33, the property of Massy Store.

Richards’ trial was initially scheduled for Friday, she having told the court during a previous appearance that she had placed the items in the trolley and did not know that her son had placed them in the bag.

However, on Friday, Richards attended court with her lawyer, Michelle Fife, who asked that the charge be put to her client again.

When the charge was put to her, Richards told the court that she was “guilty with an explanation”, which Burnett told her counsel amounted to a not guilty plea.

After further consultation with her lawyer, Richards pleaded guilty.

According to the facts read by prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel, Richards and her son entered the supermarket about 6:05 p.m. on the date in question.

Loss prevention officers observed, via the store’s surveillance system, that Richards was placing items in her trolley and her son was then transferring these items to an open bag inside the trolley.

The duo then went to a checkout counter and Richards paid for some of the items and not for others.

When she exited the store, the loss prevention officers stopped her and requested a search of her bag in the presence of the child.

When Richards was questioned about the items, the child responded, “We buy them at Randy’s”.

Richards, however, told the store workers that a gentleman had bought the items for her and that she did not know what was in the bag.

The items were checked and were found to bear Massy’s logo.

The police were called in and Richards was taken into the Criminal Investigation Department, where she gave a statement denying that she had stolen the items.

In mitigation, Fife told the court that the “circumstances described by the prosecution are unfortunate”.

The lawyer noted that most of the stolen items would perhaps be considered a treat and not everyday grocery items.

The lawyer said that Richards is a mother of two children and the only breadwinner in her home, her husband having died some time ago.

The lawyer said that the single parent was struggling to raise her children “with the right moral compass”.

She said that although the child was not before the court, the court should take judicial notice “that the child had something to do with what happened”.

On hearing this, Burnett said that that was of concern to him.

“Why did the child give that answer,” the magistrate said.

In response, the lawyer said that while the child is a minor, he has the ability to speak and she did not know why the child gave that answer to the loss prevention officers.

Parents cannot control the spontaneous response of children, Fife told the court.

But the magistrate noted that the mother did not correct the child at that time.

Fife, however, said that “moral compass is relative”, adding that if the mother had disciplined the child severely, it still would not have changed the course of action that caused her to be before the court. 

She added that times have changed and so has the approach to discipline.

Fife said that her client has no previous convictions and asked that a non-custodial sentence be imposed.

“We are asking for the mercy of the court,” she said and asked that her client be given an opportunity to correct her behaviour without being incarcerated.

The lawyer said that Richards now understands that this type of behaviour, if unrestrained, would cause her or her child to be before the court.

She said that her client had attempted to pay for the items, thereby showing good faith.

However, Samuel told the court that the store has a policy of prosecuting anyone who leaves the story with unpaid items.

The prosecutor further told the court that when the loss prevention officers approached Richards, she whispered something to the child.

But Fife objected to this being placed on the record, saying that Samuel had already presented the facts to the court and should not have mentioned that point.

The magistrate upheld the objection.

After handing down his sentence, Burnett told Richards of the long-lasting impact of her actions.

“I don’t want you to be surprised but your life has changed from today and unfortunately the whole world is going to know about you and what you did,” Burnett told Richards.

“Journalists are in court and they report court stories and your name has gone viral because of your actions today,” the magistrate further told the woman.

The magistrate told the woman that when her children grow older, they will read that on Jan. 24, 2020, their mother was convicted of theft.

18 replies on “Woman, 8-y-o son steal from supermarket”

  1. The items stolen are not considered to be everyday grocery items but they clearly are what can be used everyday. So sad that she had yo steal but even worse the values she’s inculcating in her child. Poverty and need are never reasons to steal. In fact no reason justifies stealing. She could have explained her need to someone and surely someone would have assisted her. She might have even come into a job. Lord help us to make right decisions.

    1. This is a very sad story on two fronts: stealing and involving a child. This is teaching a child to steal- that’s the worst part. The mother could have forgone those items – small money that she did not have, but now she has lost her reputation and put a stain not only upon herself, but upon her children. People need to learn to do without. I am truly sorry for this family.

  2. Joshua Richardson says:

    I am happy that this came to light. How many times did this woman get away with robbery, using her son as an accomplice? Taking him away from her and locking her away is not going to fix him.

    Is there is no system in place to help heal damaged children?

  3. Burnett remember one thing , st vincent is a difficult place to live and bring up two children. So putting this woman name in the papers for 100 and change for stolen item that was acquired by this mother and her son will come back and haunt you and those people who can eat a good meal or enjoy the cream of the crop as you will say in the island. Watch my words that you all is going to regret what you all are doing to desolate people who need assistant from poverty.there. that woman should have just made to pay the little money that the things were worth with a restriction from what she did of not happening agajn. I rest my case.

    1. How did the Magistrate erred?

      He’s to excuse judicial cases based on his personal opinion or those of the populace?

      He was kind enough to highlight to the mother the consequences of her actions, something SHE DID NOT CONSIDER BEFORE, DURING AND THE 4 PRIOR OFFENSES BEFORE THE COURT!

      YOUR comment is void of logic and common sense strupes!

      1. #Appearances not offences.

        It was only on the 5th occassion, after being prompted she pleaded guilty!!!

    2. Only in SVG can a shoplifter be sentenced as if they were a career criminal. The woman stole food and was caught. She has a kid. She didn’t burglarize or hold up the place violently. These judges must be jealous or high on drugs. I don’t understand it.

    3. If I were starving and had no means I would steal before I beg. Some fake persons carry on as if they were the guardians of good morals. We all know people will do anything to stay alive. A ordinary person can do anything unless it is prohibited by law. A polititian on the other hand can do nothing outside of the law. But they do and get away with it. Like, how come Camilo Gonsalves the minister of finance of SVG is not in jail or dismissed? SVG is turning into a combination of soviet Russia and nazi Germany. The place is run by a mob.

    4. So true, but the law in SVG is carved in stone. Even if we heading fo a cliff. Our society doesn’t look nothing like the society those laws were designed for. You would think that legislators were constantly reviewing and amending laws. Or is that not their jobs? Abuse of power is also a crime. Who is overseeing these judges? The minister of Justice? smh.

  4. She should have to pay the fine and her son should also be pounsh for sealing and for lying and maybe the mother needs to go to jail.
    ( You don’t steal from any store )
    The mother had no intention of paying for the items because she would have done so when she got cought and her son should have never lie about it. They both need to pounsh

  5. Helena Roberts says:

    Very sad that this mom is teaching her kid at such an early age, to lie and steal. I also believe that she was in need,
    and should of ask for help, and not put her reputation on the line like that. We can all sit here and judge, but am sure she realizes she made a big mistake. Public shaming her like that will definitely prevent her from getting a job, also make her situation worst, by not being able to provide food for her kids.

  6. I agree with you Vincy lawyer if the shoe were on the the other foot then there would have been different comments. Being a Robinhpod is no panacea in Vince land. Every time I visited the home land I have been robbed .I have been robbed not violently but through higher prices once they recognized I am from the diaspora.

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