Three women who broke into the Mossbank shop before stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods avoided being given a jail sentence when they appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Thursday.
Sandra Grant, 28, from Ockragarth in Brae, and Laura Nelson, 22, and Rachael Holmes, 28, both from Burgadale in Brae, were told a custodial sentence would not provide any recompense for the community they had affected by carrying out the offences.
Grant was ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, and handed a six month restriction of liberty order. Nelson and Holmes were each told to carry out an 18 month probation order. They will also be tagged for six months each.
Both Grant and Holmes had admitted breaking into the shop by removing a wire grill from an external door on 16th March. Once in they stole 75 packets of cigarettes, four bottles of spirits, food and £650.
Grant returned to the shop on 5th April, this time with Nelson by her side. They helped themselves to 147 packets of cigarettes, along with 32 packets of rolling tobacco, seven lighters and 10 packets of cigarette papers.
The pair also took alcohol, cleaning agents, toiletries and food, as well as £750 worth of Hydro Electric tokens and £190 in cash.
All three denied trying to break into the shop on 11th May, a plea which was accepted by the court. The crown also accepted Nelson’s not guilty plea to breaching the peace at the police station, also on 11th May.
However she admitted a new complaint of stealing two bracelets while on bail from Clocktower Cards in the Toll Clock Shopping Centre on 20th July.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said “an element of planning” had been involved in the break in. Traces of fabric from a glove were discovered on the window frame, meaning the the accused had attempted to cover up their tracks. He said a “fairly high value” of goods had been taken.
Goods worth over £1,100 were taken on the first occasion, while the value of items stolen in charge two totalled £1,870.
The court heard some of the items were recovered, however none of them were in a good enough condition to be resold.
“Notwithstanding the financial loss to what is a small enterprise – to which a number of people depend on for their livelihoods – the fact the premises were repeatedly broken into was something of great concern to them and the wider community,” said Mr MacKenzie. “This type of offending is rare in Mossbank and has a disproportionate affect on a small community.”
Defence agent for Grant, Tommy Allan, said her record was “not the worst” to have been seen by the court. He said she had co-operated in the preparation of reports, adding she had identified another party behind the offence.
“There are more people involved in this offence than have ended up in the dock,” he said. “She’s well aware of the principle of flying with the crows and getting shot down with them. She is struggling to explain why she got into this.”
Mr Allan was also representing Holmes. He urged Sheriff Napier to allow her to carry out a probation order, even though she had failed to co-operate with a previous order.
Meanwhile, Nelson’s agent Keith Bovie said she had been deeply affected by the loss of her mother.
He said she had not fared too well out of the break in, and only received cigarettes and tobacco after the offence, although he admitted “just cigarettes doesn’t mean just 20 cigarettes”.
He added she was under the influence when she stole the jewellery in the new complaint.
Sentencing, Sheriff Napier told them: “The type of behaviour the three of you have shown may not be considered too serious in some parts of the United Kingdom.
“In Shetland it’s a serious matter and I’d be well justified in sending you to custody for a relatively long time. However none of you would be able to make any recompense to the community, and there is merit in me trying to achieve that.”