A MOTHER-of-four fraudulently claimed a refund at a Hereford supermarket to buy food for her family.

Pearl Smith, 46, of Flaxley Drive, Belmont, Hereford, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation to buy £75.19 worth of goods at the Asda supermarket on February 17.

Adrian Jones, prosecuting at Hereford Magistrates Court last Thursday, said that the incident happened at 3.30pm when Smith went into the city supermarket with two empty carrier bags.

“She goes to the clothing aisle and puts items into her bag,” Mr Jones told the court.

“Smith then presents the items for a refund.

“The staff member gave her a gift card and the defendant carried on grocery shopping.

“When she exits the store she was stopped by security staff who saw her claim the refund.

“Later the security staff member got a copy of the receipt and she had also given false details while asking for a refund.

“When taken to the police station, Smith said she had previously brought items to Asda and was surprised how easy it was to get a refund.

“Smith said she had done this type of thing on a number of occasions to buy food.”

Chris Read, mitigating, said that Smith was a woman of good character who had found herself in a “very difficult position”. Mr Read added: “She is a lady who has worked very hard in the health service for 30 years until a few years ago when she started to suffer from depression and struggled to get help.

“Nine months ago she had to give up her employment because of it.

“At this period she was struggling as her husband’s work had dried up so was struggling to feed the family.

“She had got a refund previously without a receipt which planted a seed to cope with her immediate difficulty.”

Magistrates made Smith the subject of a conditional discharge for a 12-month period.

She was also ordered to pay £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.