Published: 06:00, 13 September 2021
| Updated: 15:21, 13 September 2021
A trio of female thieves - with 16 children between them - went shoplifting at Bluewater Shopping Centre where they swiped £2,500 worth of perfume.
And when one of the shoplifters - who all identified themselves as Orthrodox Christian Roma women - was later asked why she had done it, she replied: "The devil possessed me!"
Maidstone Crown Court heard how the three had stashed 21 bottles of expensive perfume among four layers of skirts, with special pockets which were worn over trousers!
The three: mum-of-five Dulchasa Iosif, 38; single mum-of-five Mihaela Mirica, 42 and 30-year-old mum-of six Isabella Viriga all admitted two thefts from Penhaligan's and Jo Malone stores in Bluewater.
They sat in the dock laughing and waving to family members in the public gallery but stood with their head bows as the Judge told them they were banned from the Greenhithe shopping complex for the next two years.
They were spotted in the Jo Malone store - where they stashed three bottles and were then seen in the nearby Penhaligan's store where they swiped another 18 bottles, with a total value of £2,855.
They were tracked to a nearby bus station and arrested before they could flee, the court heard.
All three live in the Tottenham area in north London and have previous convictions for theft or going equipped to steal.
Each received jail sentences suspended for two years and were ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work for the community.
The court heard how over the years Iosif had been questioned by police and had used 11 different aliases.
The judge, Recorder Patricia Hitchcock QC told her: "You are clearly a regular shoplifter, but now that must stop. You said you had no intention of selling the perfume and that you are illiterate and you didn't know how valuable the perfume was.
"But you had 12 of the 21 bottles in pockets in your many layers of skirts. You were clearly going to sell them for profit."
"You are clearly a regular shoplifter, but now that must stop..."
The judge added that while she accepted that their religion and culture involved women wearing long skirts that didn't include special pockets and slits in the material.
Defence barrister Andrew Bousfield said Viriga, who came to the UK 15 years ago and has six children, now wanted to apologise for the shoplifting.
He added that Iosif claimed she took the perfume because she wanted "a little bit of luxury."
"She is illiterate and didn't know how expensive it was"
But the judge retorted: "I am sure that the 12 bottles that she was found with were for her personal use".
Iosif was given a 24-week suspended sentence and told to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
Mirica and Viriga were each given suspended sentences of 16 weeks. Mirica was told to do 250 hours of unpaid work and Viriga, 100 hours.