Sisters accuse Universal Credit of shoplifting at The Orbital

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Two sisters have been banned from entering the Orbital Mall after stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods from shops to pay their bills.

Kasie Jade McGailey and Tabitha Aimme McGailey were caught red-handed with alcohol, baby products and health products in their car after a shoplifting at the center on November 12, 2021.

Their lawyer said the breaches were out of ‘pure desperation’, had been ‘triggered’ by the government scrapping the Universal Credit hike weeks earlier and they allegedly sold the booze to pay the electricity bills .

The couple were spotted in the Asda store in the center by security and were arrested. When police arrived they were arguing with security guards, prosecutor Keith Ballinger told Swindon Magistrates’ Court.

“The alleged stolen items were with Tabitha, she was arrested and Kasie was allowed to go home,” he added.

But officers then searched their car and found a large number of items including gin and baby products.

“Store investigations showed that the two women were selecting and concealing items,” Ballinger added.

In total, the pair stole £320 worth of health and beauty products from Boots and 14 bottles of alcohol, worth £297, from Marks and Spencer.

Tabitha has been charged with stealing baby powder and clothes worth £129.50 from Asda.

All items have been recovered, the court also said.

Representing the two sisters, Emma Hillier said by way of mitigation: ‘As far as these offenses are concerned, they were committed out of sheer desperation to support their children and the alcohol would have been sold to put electricity in their two homes.

“What seems to have triggered these breaches is that the government cut Universal Credit by £80 a month at this time and that had an impact on these two ladies.

“Both of these women appreciate that they need help and support with their finances.”

At sentencing, magistrates warned Kasie, 20, and Tabitha, 26, that the next time they appeared in court they risked jail.

The bench gave Kasie, of The Circle in Pinehurst, a 12-month community prescription, with 10 days of rehab activity. Tabitha, of Edencroft in Highworth, also received a 12-month community prescription, but with 12 days of rehabilitation activities.

The two were banned from going to the Orbital and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £95 and £85 in costs.

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