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Prolific Maryport shoplifter went on stealing spree while pregnant

Melissa Ridley

A prolific and persistent shoplifter who snatched alcohol, meat, washing powder and razor blades as she plundered shops in four different Cumbrian towns has been jailed for 20 months.

Melissa Jayne Ridley, 35, stole hundreds of pounds worth of goods from stores in Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven and Wigton despite being subject to a court-imposed criminal behaviour order, which banned her from even entering the premises.

Ridley stole from different shops on the same day with her offending — which occurred between July and December last year — getting under way a matter of months after she was released from a prison sentence handed down for previous offending.

“The defendant is a prolific shoplifter,” prosecutor Dan Travers told Carlisle Crown Court this afternoon.

Ridley had been confronted by shop employees a number of times, and Mr Travers revealed of her claims during one such incident in August:

“She said she was pregnant and would not steal.”

Ridley, of George Terrace, Maryport, admitted flouting the order  14 times, and also confessed to 11 thefts and one cannabis possession crime.

She was said to have more than 100 offences to her name spanning almost two decades up to 2020.

Judith McCullough, defending, said the defendant was addressing substance misuse which had been a catalyst for offending in the past, and told the court there were now “glimmers of hope”.

Her latest crimes had been committed in the face of financial and accommodation problems which were now resolved, and Ms McCullough suggested a jail term could be suspended to enable progress to continue in the community. 

But, passing an immediate prison sentence, Recorder Eric Lamb told Ridley of the repeated CBO breaching: “Put simply, you took no notice of it whatsoever.

“There is a continued risk of serious criminal behaviour — that is the plundering of businesses in the area from which you were banned.”

Ridley’s order is due to run until March 2022.