A shopper has been hauled into court and prosecuted for theft after she found a £20 note and pocketed it. Nicole Bailey, 23, thought it was a case of “finders keepers” when she spotted the note lying in a store freezer cabinet.
One customer that was on a wheelchair alerted store staff about his lost bill was gone. They checked CCTV and found film of Bailey picking up the money. Police were called and the HR worker, who lives near the shop in Blurton, Stoke, voluntarily attended an interview.
She tried to deny taking the £20 but then admitted to it when shown the film. Bailey, who has a clean criminal record, admitted to theft.
The authorities gave her a six-month conditional discharge. It means she will not be punished if she stays out of trouble for six months. She must also pay £175 legal costs.
Bailey went to the police station without any legal assistance that resulted her case to get worse. Had they informed her about the technicality, her case could’ve been solved right away without paying for a huge amount.
“We were very surprised this was taken to court. This case highlights a couple of issues with the legal system. Had she been represented at the police station it wouldn’t have gone as far as it did. As it was, she was prosecuted and because she is in work she was not entitled to Legal Aid. Faced with a potentially large bill to defend the case, she chose to plead guilty at the first hearing and therefore pay a smaller sum. Theft of this kind is a grey area. If she had been able to defend it, the outcome could have been different. Understandably she chose the cheaper and easier option.”, Director Jason Holt said.
This is Bailey’s first conviction. She received more sympathy than hate from the social media due to the severity of her sentence and the triviality of her offense.
Chief Inspector Karen Stevenson said afterwards: “We’d actively encourage any member of the public who picks up money that’s been dropped to be honest.
“Do the right thing by taking all reasonable steps to try to find the owner.”