A SHOPLIFTER whose record for theft was described as lamentable by her own lawyer managed to get five weeks knocked off her latest jail sentence.

Nina Austin was sentenced to 25 weeks imprisonment by magistrates in July.

Yesterday, she was in Swindon Crown Court to appeal the sentence – claiming it was disproportionate.

Judge Jason Taylor QC, sitting alongside two justices of the peace, pointed to the 41-year-old’s poor criminal record with 35 shoplifting offences.

That record entitled magistrates to increase the length of sentence they handed out to defendants, he said.

But he allowed the appeal, reducing the sentence to 10 weeks imprisonment on each shoplifting charge.

Judge Taylor did, however, have some stern words for Austin: “You have an appalling record that we find singularly unimpressive.

“You were subject to three community orders at various points during the commission of these offences.

“It is clear that you have shown a woeful disregard to the court.”

Alistair Haggerty, for Austin, said his client had previously stolen items to sell in order to buy drugs.

However, the latest shoplifting offences for which she found herself before the courts were different.

Having been placed on a methadone prescription, she no longer needed to steal to fund a class A drug habit.

Rather, Mr Haggerty said she had been forced to make the first theft - of around £50-worth of meat from Iceland – by her abusive partner.

The second offence, committed on July 2, saw Austin steal washing powder and cutlery from Wilko after she had been kicked out by her landlord for arguing with her partner.

She had managed to get herself off drugs after hearing her father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Mr Haggerty told the court: “She tells me in light of the distressing news she had wanted more than ever to rid herself of drug addiction.”

He acknowledged his client had a lamentable record. However, he said the magistrates’ sentence was too high given the relatively low value of the goods taken.

Judge Taylor said the court had not been overly impressed by the mitigation offered on Austin's behalf.

Appearing in the dock yesterday morning, Austin, formerly of Commonhill, Cricklade, spoke only to confirm her name.

Susan Cavender appeared for the Crown.