A Whanganui mother-of-seven who was caught shoplifting nearly $600 of groceries says she "had no choice".

Miriam Margaret Gilbert pleaded guilty to shoplifting when she appeared in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday.

On Boxing Day last year, at 4.50pm, Gilbert attempted to steal $571 worth of groceries from Pak'nSave Whanganui.

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Drew Morrison said Gilbert walked through the supermarket filling her trolley and then proceeded to the self check out area.

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"She made no attempt to pay and was stopped by security on her way out."

Mr Morrison said the explanation Gilbert gave police was that she went to Pak'nSave to shoplift.

"The items were recovered, no reparation is sought," Mr Morrison told the judge.

Judge Dugald Matheson said Gilbert was known to the court for previous shoplifting convictions.

Gilbert told Judge Matheson that she didn't have a choice.

"I have seven children. My oldest is 12 and my youngest is 1."

Judge Matheson convicted Gilbert and ordered her to come up for sentence in 12 months if called upon.

"Walk that way. If you keep your head down and stay out of trouble we won't see you back in this courtroom again."

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