Crowdfunding raises £15k for starving shoplifter

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Woman forced to steal after being sanctioned gets £15,000 in donations after public rally to her cause 

18th August 2015 by Robert Armour 3 Comments

An astonishing £15,000 has been raised for a woman who stole a packet of Mars Bars after having her benefits sanctioned.

Louisa Sewell said she was left with no money for food and had to steal a pack of four as she hadn’t eaten for four days.  

Sewell was caught stealing on the Kidderminster convenience store’s CCTV camera, and then fined £328.75 by a magistrates’ court.

This fine was the sum of £73 for the theft, £150 in court charges, £85 for prosecution costs, a £20 victim surcharge – and 75p in compensation to the store for the Mars Bars.

The fine is over 438 times the value of the theft.

Stuart Campbell, who is based in Bath and runs Wings Over Scotland, a pro-independence website, decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Sewell to be able to pay her fine. 

This woman was failed so many times down the line - Stuart Campbell

His aim was to raise £500 – but in four days, he has raised nearly £15,000 with £12,000 raised in the first day via an Indiegogo fundraising page.  

Campbell said he was inspired to start an appeal because of the daily injustices people currently faced under the UK government, citing a recent news story about a young investment banker who glassed someone in a nightclub and was let off punishment by the judge, who noted that the man had “a lot going for him”.

“It was quite hard to ignore the contrast between justice for the poor and justice for the well-off,” Campbell said.

“I can’t imagine how many similar cases there have been in the last couple of weeks that we don’t know anything about – just by sheer chance we stumbled across this one and decided to do something about it.”

Sewell's solicitor told the court: “She fully accepts this offence of theft. She said she was really hungry. She had no money. She took the lowest value item she could find.” She also informed the court that Sewell’s benefits had been sanctioned.

However the magistrate said it was unacceptable for her to steal “just for being hungry”.

Campbell added: “This woman was failed so many times down the line; the shop that’s pressing charges over pennies, a prosecutor that decides that this is a good use of court time and resources, and a magistrate that goes "oh this woman hasn’t got 75p, so let’s fine her £328 even though she’s got no income whatsoever".

“I can’t begin to explain what any of those people are thinking.”

New regulations in England require convicted adult offenders to pay towards the cost of running the criminal justice system.

18th August 2015 by John Walsh

Ms Sewell will only receive the amount to pay her fine the balance of the funds raised will go to various charity and a food bank.Your headline is misleading to say the least.

18th August 2015 by ronald anderson

Get the story right the Crowdfunder for the woman was for £500 any more (whitch is normal for Wings over Scotland) would go to Dumfries Foodbank & Charities,as th Rev has said its NOT a reward (read the full crowdfund article on Wings over Scotland.

18th August 2015 by ronald anderson

Get the story right , £500 was the crowdfunder. Any more would go to Dumfries Foodbank,& Charities The Rev has said previously this is not a reward but the woman needs help. Full story at http://WWW.Wings Over Scotland.