Linda Bennett (59) from Harberton Park was absolutely discharged on three counts of theft, after the Judge said the incident had a “tragic outcome” for her.
Mr Copeland said the public conviction of Bennett was enough punishment for the mother of two and told her court was “no place for you.”
A PPS Prosecutor told the court how on three occasions in September, Bennett had removed groceries from Poundland and Iceland in Banbridge without paying.
She was caught on CCTV and all items apart from frozen goods valued at £5.50 were suitable for resale. Bennett made a full admission.
Her solicitor Conleth Downey said Bennett was a 59 year old widow who had two grown up sons who didn’t work.
He said the sons were putting her under overwhelming pressure “to the point it was almost menacing.”
Mr Downey explained that their past-time hobby was the gym and they used her money for gym costs and to buy protein. “This was not a case of going out and stealing designer clothes, it was a necessity to feed her family.
“She was under overbearing pressure.
“ It has now been explained to these young men that they can’t use her benefits to fund three rather than one.”
He said Bennett’s family circle now know what has been happening and they are fully supportive of her.
Mr Copeland remarked on Bennett’s previous “exemplary record”. He added, “I am now told you have the full support of your family and GP.”