Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 20:19 UK

West End shoplifting gang jailed

Oxford Street
The gang targeted shops around London's Oxford Street

Three shoplifters who were part of a gang dubbed the "Spice Girls" have been sentenced for stealing £15,000-worth of clothes from London's West End stores.

Melissa Grant, 39, and Camille Gray, 30, admitted conspiracy to steal at Southwark Crown Court.

Grant, of west London, and Gray, of south-west London, were jailed for 21 and 16 months respectively.

Nadine Wright, 31, of north London, admitted handling stolen goods and was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.

Jacqueline Thompson, 28, of Edward Avenue, east London, and Ola Ilesanmi, 39, of Trinity Rise, south-west London, were also part of the gang.

'Organised and professional'

Thompson, who admitted handling stolen goods, and Ilesanmi, who admitted conspiracy to steal, will be sentenced at a later date.

£10,000-worth of stolen clothes were found at Ilesanmi's home.

All the women pleaded guilty after they being caught in Oxford Street on 2 October last year sorting clothes stolen from Gap, Next and Oasis.

A sixth member of the gang, Angela Johnson, of Streatham High Road, south London, failed to appear at court after admitting a charge of conspiracy to steal.

The 52-year-old was caught staggering from the scene of the crime and "struggling with the weight of the bags" she was carrying.

They were found to contain 31 pairs of trousers, four tops, three pairs of shoes and two pairs of sandals.

In total the haul was worth £700.

Prosecutor Sally Fudge said: "For the bulk of shoplifting that characterises this case, the gang was organised into those who carried out the stealing and others who assisted in the removal of the items from the area, allowing them to carry out more thefts."

Judge James Wadsworth QC said: "What you pleaded guilty to was in my view organised and professional shoplifting on a large scale.

"That is a serious problem in the West End and it is people like you who make it a serious problem."

Grant, of St Stephens Gardens, has 30 previous convictions including 26 for shoplifting.

Gay, from High Trees, is a mother-of-five and was pregnant when she was arrested with a bag of clothes worth £450.

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