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37-year-old escapes jail time despite numerous thefts and failure to provide clean drug tests

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A woman has narrowly avoided prison after breaching a series of court orders while awaiting sentence for numerous thefts around town.Vanessa Hunter, 37, who currently resides at the Lynn Night Shelter, barely avoided being jailed when she was sentenced at the town’s magistrates’ court on Thursday.Over the course of several court appearances, she had pleaded guilty to a series of thefts and breaches of court orders.

Vanessa Hunter was sentenced at Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday

Four of those thefts were committed following a deferral of sentence which was to monitor how well she kept appointments with the probation service. It also required her to commit no further crimes and provide “some” clean drug tests.However, she failed to impress magistrates with the manner in which she went about this – with her response to probation supervision described as “superficial” in court. This deferral had been put in place after Hunter breached a previous community order in November, with her compliance at that time said to be “extremely negative”.However, after hearing from solicitor Ruth Johnson about Hunter’s “willingness” to comply and drastic lifestyle changes, magistrates opted to suspend her 14-week prison sentence for 12 months.She has also had five rehabilitation activity requirement days and a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement added to her current community order.She will pay £107 in compensation to Farmfoods and £26 to Tesco after her thefts. Other thefts which saw items recovered saw her take £18.65 worth of baby milk from Boots in Lynn, laundry products worth £48 from One Beyond and cleaning equipment valued at £50.50 from Poundland.Ms Johnson said Hunter was “incredibly pleased” with her response to supervision. “She is not somebody who is a stranger to the court,” the solicitor said.“There seems to be something of a cyclical nature, a revolving door scenario, as far as Ms Hunter is concerned. “I think having been through the response to supervision with Ms Hunter, there are a great number of positive improvements that I have been able to identify.“She is somebody who has always been completely transparent as far as her drug addiction is concerned. She has never tried to shy away from that. “She has massively reduced the amount of heroin that she has been misusing.” Ms Johnson added: “She in fact looks a great deal better. Her skin has cleared up – she has colour to her skin.“Her sister went so far to say that she actually looks clean.“She is looking after herself. She has pulled something out of the bag in the space of a few months.”She concluded: “I don’t think a prison sentence is going to do anything.”

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