A woman in Northern Ireland has been jailed after using the same Tesco voucher numerous times, exploiting a failure in the supermarket system which allowed her to accumulate almost £1,000 ($1,313) worth of goods.
Angela Rogan of Barnfield Grange in Lisburn, was ordered to pay a £400 fine and was jailed for three months after pleading guilty to one count of fraud by false representation and eight counts of possessing articles for use in connection with fraud.
In September 2013, the 46-year-old redeemed vouchers worth between £3 and £5 each several times, even though the coupons were only meant to be used once.
Police were called to Tesco in Cookstown, County Tyrone, after a store manager grew suspicious of the amount of goods Rogan had submitted. When he refused to accept any further part-payments and challenged her on the validity of the vouchers, Rogan left the scene in a vehicle which was subsequently traced to her home address.
Once the vehicle was inspected, it was found to contain £955 worth of goods, including cosmetics, nappies and washing powder, that the defendant had purchased by using coupons several times over.
Dungannon Magistrates Court heard Rogan claimed she thought the vouchers were genuine, adding she had purchased them on eBay. Despite pleading guilty, she maintained her conduct was not dishonest and that she was "simply taking advantage of a flaw", which allowed vouchers intended for a single use to be redeemed several times.
However, the court was told Rogan had convictions dating back around three decades and was described as "a career thief" by District Judge John Meehan. A number of other vouchers were also found on the scene and were found to be duplicates.
The latter said he was shocked by Rogan's "long and prolific record for theft and dishonesty", adding she had been dealt with lightly during her previous offences. The defendant was also reprimanded by Judge Meehan for declining to assist probation officers with a pre-sentence report and for previously showing up in court with two infant children, a move, the judge said, which was aimed at inspiring compassion.
"There is something exasperating about a woman who brings her children to court when she is to be sentenced for her persistent criminal offending career," Judge Meehan said.
"I get the impression you feel you can talk your way out of everything. The matter is closed."