A WOMAN branded “a professional shoplifter” has successfully appealed against the length of a prison sentence recently imposed by magistrates.

But Charlene Amelia Watson has only seen her jail term of 36 weeks reduced by nine days on appeal.

Durham Crown Court. heard the original sentence was passed by Newton Aycliffe magistrates on March 11 for eight counts of theft, on five different occasions between August last year and earlier this month.

Her spate of offending, targeted clothing and household goods shops in Darlington and St Helen Auckland.

Sam Faulks, prosecuting, said the items stolen by Watson, from clothing, to perfume and household items, were worth a total of £1,175.

Some were committed while she was on bail for earlier offences, and twice, in February, after she was released by police “under investigation”.

Among premises she struck at were Seymour’s on Grange Road, Darlington, twice in four days last August, stealing a Hugo Boss duvet set and cover, worth £314, and dressing gowns and pillow cases, worth a total of £304.

Following her arrest, after stealing from branches of Next, Marks and Spencer, and TK Maxx, at St Helen Auckland Retail Park, on March 10, she admitted the offences appearing before magistrates the following day.

Watson, of Cartmell Terrace, Darlington, appeared for her appeal hearing, by video link from Low Newton Women’s Prison, in Durham, where she has spent the last fortnight.

Anthony Pettengell, for Watson, said she made immediate admissions for offences which individually would not cross the custody threshold, but he conceded it was the cumulative effect which led to the sentence.

Judge James Adkin, sitting with a magistrate, said they considered Watson to be “a professional burglar”, but agreed to amend the sentence to a total of eight months, a week and two days less than the original term imposed.