Gladstone mum-of-five stole groceries and bottle of Jack

GUILTY PLEAS: Merle-Anne Allira Johnson pleaded guilty to three charges of stealing and three counts of fraud.
GUILTY PLEAS: Merle-Anne Allira Johnson pleaded guilty to three charges of stealing and three counts of fraud. Facebook

LOOKING over a Gladstone woman's 12-page criminal history, Magistrate Melanie Ho said it was clear Merle-Anne Allira Johnson had "a proclivity for stealing".

Johnson, 32, appeared before Gladstone Magistrates Court on Friday and pleaded guilty to three counts of stealing, three counts of fraud, and one count of attempted fraud.

The offences took place over a four-day period in April, during which Ms Johnson stole about $175 worth of groceries from Woolworths Gladstone, a bottle of Jack Daniels from the Grand Hotel, and a credit card from a woman she lived with at the time.

The fraud charges arose from when Johnson used the credit card three times at McDonalds, as well as when she attempted to use it at a liquor store, where it was declined and taken from her.

Appearing by video link from a Brisbane women's prison, Johnson attempted to explain her actions by telling Ms Ho the owner of the credit card had known she was using it - but was quickly cut off by her defence lawyer, who warned her to stop offering potential defences to charges to which she was pleading guilty.

"If my client could stop because... if she continues to talk (the magistrate) will stand this matter down," Jun Pepito hurriedly interjected.

Mr Pepito said his client was a single mother of five, and he had been instructed she had undertaken several rehabilitative courses while in prison.

He said a significant part of his client's offending had been stealing groceries for her family.

But Ms Ho said while she could accept the groceries from Woolworths may have been intended for Johnson's family, she could not say the same for the stolen alcohol.

The magistrate said Johnson had acted with "blatant disregard" for the law, and noted her image had been captured on CCTV on each occasion.

She sentenced Johnson to 11 months in prison, but set a date for immediate parole.

"Thank you your honour. God bless you," Johnson said in reply, visibly relieved.

Topics:  crime gladstonecourt gladstone region police

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