Published: 00:01, 17 January 2018
A woman branded Canterbury’s most prolific criminal is back behind bars after notching up her 278th conviction.
Joanne Jones – who once told KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Gazette she enjoys shoplifting – has been in the dock once again following her latest thieving spree.
This time her victims included an 11-year-old girl and a city centre store she targeted four times – despite being banned from the shop.
The 41-year-old, who has spent her adult life in and out of prison, admitted five charges of theft and was sentenced to her latest spell in custody, this time for 34 weeks.
Canterbury Crown Court heard she committed the majority of her most recent crimes in breach of a suspended prison sentence for stealing goods worth £1 from Poundland.
A judge was told she targeted Cath Kidston in The Parade four times between March and December, stealing a total of £713 worth of items, including handbags, speakers, a wallet and a back pack.
In November she also stole coats worth £70 from an 11-year-old schoolgirl. The young victim was in Wilko in St George’s Street when Jones noticed she was distracted and swiped the jackets, which were in a bag.
As with most of her offending, Jones’ solicitor, Simon Taylor, said the thefts were caused by her long-term addiction to drugs, which affect her “ability to make rational decisions”.
“This is typical shambolic acquisitive offending at the lowest level possible in order to secure funding for her drug addiction,” he said.
Jones, whose children were all born addicted to heroin, previously told the Gazette she first took the drug in prison aged just 18.
"I'll nick anything. If I see it and like it, I’ll nick it" - Joanne Jones
“When I take heroin, I feel comfortable,” she said.
“It blocks all the bad stuff in your life out. You feel like you’re in a dream with nice thoughts washing over you.”
She said her addiction was a major cause of her prolific shoplifting, but conceded she also received a buzz from stealing.
“I must be a kleptomaniac as well,” she said. “I just do it for the rush.
“I’ll nick anything. If I see it and like it, I’ll nick it.
“I have stolen anything I’ve felt like. I’ve nicked from pound shops, places where there is no chance of selling anything on to make money. I enjoy shoplifting.”
Jailing Jones on Friday, Judge Heather Norton told her she had a 25-year criminal record comprising 278 offences.
“You have an appalling record no matter what trouble you have had in your life,” she said. “You make the decisions to commit these offences.”
More by this authorPaul Hooper