Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Crown prosecutor blames food theft on eating disorder

The woman stole almost $200 of groceries. Photo / APN
The woman stole almost $200 of groceries. Photo / APN

A Crown prosecutor has admitted stealing almost $200 of groceries from a supermarket while on a break from a court case, and has blamed the theft on an eating disorder.

The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to one charge of shoplifting when she appeared in North Shore District Court last week. She has applied for a discharge without conviction and will reappear for sentencing in February.

The Herald has chosen not to name the woman, who works for Auckland law firm Meredith Connell. It is understood she is seeking help for personal and medical issues.

Court documents released to the Herald yesterday reveal how the woman paid for $11 worth of groceries while allegedly trying to pinch the rest from under a checkout operator's nose.

She was working on a case at North Shore District Court on November 15 and went to the supermarket across the road during an adjournment.

A summary of the police case says she at first filled a "personal shopping bag" with items before putting more items into a store basket.

She then "removed her jacket which was draped over her handbag and placed it over the top of her shopping bag. She then started to tuck the jacket around the sides of her bag so the jacket covered the top, concealing the groceries inside.

"At the checkout the defendant placed her basket and her own shopping bag on the floor in front of the counter. By this time the defendant's own shopping bag contained a number of grocery items valued at $199.10. She placed the items from the basket on the counter, leaving the items in her own bag. As those items were being scanned by the operator, the defendant shuffled her shopping bag along the floor towards the end of the checkout."

She paid for the items in the basket, picked up both bags and started to walk out before being stopped by security.

"When spoken to by police, she stated she had an eating disorder which caused her to be embarrassed about the items she was purchasing and the disorder prevented her from thinking straight."

Simon Moore SC, Meredith Connell chairman of partners and Auckland Crown solicitor, said he was surprised and saddened by the incident.

- NZ Herald

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