A MOTHER of four has escaped spending Christmas in prison for multiple stealing offences after she was diagnosed with kleptomania.
Hayley Maree Rowe, 22, was put on probation for dishonesty offences, but two days later, on October 11, she was out thieving again.
Rowe stole goods from Woolworths by hiding them in a nappy bag, and then stole baby clothes from Coles.
On both occasions she was caught. Ipswich Magistrates Court heard that was just the start finding herself "in hot water" as she was caught driving while disqualified as well.
Rowe was driving one of her children to a doctor, because her partner was serving jail time, and was pulled over by police on September 12.
The court heard because Rowe had only been sentenced to probation two days prior to her subsequent stealing offence, the order hadn't had time to work.
Defence lawyer Michael Kelly said a psychiatrist had diagnosed Rowe with kleptomania - where a person has the inability to refrain from the urge to steal items for reasons other than personal use or financial gain.
"She is highly motivated to stop stealing," Mr Kelly said.
But Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist was not convinced, and told Rowe she was the only person who could end the problem for herself.
"These are matters only you can deal with," Mr Stjernqvist said. "Every time you go to court you'd hear the same thing - but the only one who can end it is yourself.
You need to concentrate on what you've go to do ... (but) you have an atrocious history for ignoring court orders (as well).
Rowe pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing and one count of disqualified driving.
She was sentenced to nine month's prison, wholly suspended for two years, and ordered to perform a further two years of probation.
Mr Stjernqvist reminded Rowe the first rule of probation was to not commit any further offences during the order.
The court heard Rowe had three children aged six, four and three, to a former partner, and an eight-month-old baby to her current partner.
Last time she faced court for disqualified driving she had the benefit of immediate parole, so she found herself in jeopardy of serving actual jail time when facing court on Thursday.
Rowe was also ordered to pay restitution for the goods.