Serial shoplifter receives 16th conviction

By Imran Ali

A judge was forced to impose a night-time curfew on a serial shoplifter, banned from almost all major retail outlets in Whangarei, so she could attend medical appointments.

Stroke patient Loren Helen Kidwell, 53, was warned by Judge John McDonald in the Whangarei District Court yesterday that she was getting closer to prison with her persistent offending.

She earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of shoplifting - her 16th conviction - and appeared for sentencing yesterday.

Judge McDonald said Kidwell's offending started in 1985 when she was around 26 and, within a short space of time, she had racked up 11 convictions for shoplifting before she stopped her illegal acts.

Since moving to Whangarei in May 2010, she has shoplifted four times before her latest offence at New World in Regent about 8.15pm on February 12, 2013.

The judge said Kidwell entered the supermarket and selected seven items valued at $76.

After hiding them in her bag, she left without paying for the items.

She was stopped by security and police were called.

Her lawyer Tracy Spencer said Kidwell had worked for many years as a nurse aide at the Mason Clinic, a forensic psychiatric service for mentally-ill offenders in Auckland.

She said a sentence of home detention would cause problems in terms of her medical appointments.

Judge McDonald said he was faced with two issues while deciding on an appropriate sentence. First, he said Kidwell continued to re-offend despite a long list of previous convictions and facing fines and terms of supervision. Secondly, she suffered a stroke and her self-esteem was low.

He imposed a sentence of four months' community detention to start from this Friday.

Curfew hours will be between 3pm and 4am.

- Northern Advocate

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