Housekeeper's hefty court bill for stealing 3 bottles of wine from employer's home

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A drunken off-duty housekeeper sneaked into her employer's home to steal three bottles of wine because she was desperate to continue a night on the booze.

Charlotte Coleman's nocturnal visit, while the occupants were away, was filmed on a doorbell security camera.

The homeowner, who received a security alert about her house in Bennett's Lane, Cossington, Leicestershire, being entered just before midnight, checked the footage to see Coleman leaving with the alcohol.

The victim later contacted 48-year-old Coleman and asked for the two bottles of Prosecco and a bottle of wine be replaced or paid for, totalling £38, to avoid police involvement.

When there was no response from Coleman, the victim "lost her patience" and reported the matter, Leicester Crown Court was told.

Coleman, of Hallfields Lane, in Rothley, pleaded guilty to stealing three bottles of wine on the night of Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Neil Bannister, prosecuting, said the defendant's duties as housekeeper involved a couple hours work on certain mornings, and she had no reason to be there at night.

Coleman knew the family were on holiday when she used a key to gain entry and help herself to bottles from a wine rack in the kitchen.

"She may not have been aware of the camera in the doorbell when she committed the offence," said the prosecutor.

'Pretty sad' she wanted more wine

In her police interview, Coleman said she had been drinking with her sister and they ran out of wine.

She confessed to officers: "That's how much I wanted a bottle of wine.

"That's pretty sad."

Judge Ebrahim Mooncey said although the missing bottles were of low value, it was a "breach of trust".

He added: "She's lost that employment and it's unlikely she'll be employed in the same sector again."

Sentencing, Judge Mooncey said: "As a housekeeper you had permission to go into people's homes and no doubt in the process learn a bit about them and see what they've got.

"Things had been working well with the person who employed you (since December 2018).

"Sadly, on a night when you'd been drinking, you felt the need to obtain more bottles of wine.

"You say there was no off-licence readily available."

Judge Mooncey added: "The need for wine or Prosecco was crucial that night and you thought, 'I know where I can go', and let yourself into the complainant's house and helped yourself to three bottles.

"You could have taken other things but it was the wine that you were after - and that's what leads you to be before a crown court and losing your good character."

The judge said there was a risk such behaviour would cause others who worked as cleaners and housekeepers "to be looked upon with suspicion, when they need not be, that's the sad thing about this case".

'Bitter regret'

Coleman's barrister, Paul Prior, said: "It's something she bitterly regrets.

"In all other respects she'd been working there perfectly well."

He told the court: "She has lost this employment and lost her entire cleaning business because of the Covid-19 pandemic and is now on state benefits."

Mr Prior said Coleman was also a carer for her ailing partner, who became unwell a year ago and underwent a failed operation that caused complications.

The barrister added: "There's no previous dishonest offending on her part and unfortunately on this night, when she let her hair down, she took this stupid decision to take three bottles of wine from her employer when she was somewhat in drink and making poor choices."

Coleman was fined £150 and ordered to pay £250 prosecution costs.

She was also told to pay £250 compensation to her former employer, taking into account the worry and distress caused.

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