Northern Ireland

Tesco shirt theft accused relieved at acquittal

A woman cleared by a Crown Court jury of stealing a pack of three school shirts worth £5.24 has expressed her relief at her acquittal on Tuesday.

Eileen Millar chose to go to the higher court after refusing to accept a caution in the Magistrates Court.

She said that her arrest in a Tesco shop in west Belfast in 2009 had put "a lot of stress and pressure" on her.

She added: "It was more or less the embarrassment, the blackening of my name and I just wanted it all cleared".

The court heard the 40-year-old was detained minutes after putting spare change in a charity box and paying for groceries.

Mrs Millar said she had made "a genuine mistake" and she "completely forgot" about the pack of shirts which she had hung on the back of the trolley.

She rejected prosecution suggestions that it was simply a case of her "giving way to temptation".

The 11 jurors unanimously found her not guilty.

'Common sense and discretion'

Mrs Millar said that she would not have been happy for a judge sitting alone to make a decision on her case.

"That is why I asked to take it up to the Crown Court. So that ordinary people, a jury of 12, could make the decision."

Her husband Mark said two opportunities to have the case resolved had been missed.

"One would have been on the day in Tesco with a bit of common sense and discretion," he said.

"The second was in the Magistrates Court where she was offered to take a caution, which we did not believe was good enough.

"That was more or less saying - yes, I did it. And we know she did not do it."

In a statement, Tesco said that the prosecution of the case was a matter for the Public Prosecution Service.

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