Drug-addicted mum who’s clocked up 75 offenses given a chance – and promises to hand herself in if she blows it


A mum with an addiction to drugs has promised to turn over a new leaf after clocking up 75 offenses.

Charlene McKerrow, 33, appeared on a police wanted list having embarked on a shoplifting rampage.

She clocked up 75 offenses and repeatedly went on the run, sleeping on sofas at the homes of friends across Bolton, before police were able to catch up to her.

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McKerrow, now of Manchester Road, Bolton, was detained after she defied an ASBO-type Criminal Behavior Order (CBO) 20 times and embarked on a shoplifting spree in which she stole more than £1,000-worth of items from high street stores while claiming she was armed with a knife.

Despite there being a ‘high risk of reoffending’, according to probation officers, McKerrow was handed a 20-month sentence, suspended for two years, at Bolton Crown Court earlier this week.

Charlene McKerrow pictured in 2007

The court heard how McKerrow had led a ‘chaotic’ lifestyle due to domestic violence she witnessed at home growing up.

She was put in care and left school at the age of 14 without any qualifications.

During her criminal career, she attacked passengers on a bus; she went on a foul mouthed rampage at a takeaway; and she was involved in a robbery in which a girl had a can of beer poured over her head, before she had her phone taken.

Of the 75 offences, 38 involved thefts and 13 were breaches of court orders.

McKerrow has also been given a number of conditional discharges, community orders and suspended sentences.

In 2013, she was jailed for five years and three months for wounding after she smashed a bottle of lager on the face of another woman, leaving her scarred for life and needing 36 stitches.

In December 2020, she was issued with a two-year CBO for three shoplifting offenses; two public order matters; and harassment.

The order meant McKerrow was banned from Bolton town center shops, but in the ensuing months she was seen frequenting her old haunts yet again.

She repeatedly stole from local stores claiming she had a knife hidden in her pocket.

Gwen Henshaw, prosecuting, said: “Between June and November 2020, she stole from various shops and on occasion left the victims in fear by claiming she was in possession of a knife whilst she took items.

“In a pharmacy she lifted several items off shelves and hid them under a blanket. When challenged she said she had a knife and left without attempting to pay.

“She then returned to the same store two hours later to steal more items but this time was not challenged as the staff were so fearful that she might use the knife if challenged. There were deliberate and persistent breaches of the Criminal Behavior Order.”

During her spree McKerrow also preyed on stores – including Clinton Cards, Poundland, Aldi, Card Factory – where she stole around £1,036-worth of items.

She was arrested and locked up last November.

McKerrow, pictured in 2007, was handed a suspended jail sentence this week

She told the court she was now battling to get herself clean while on remand behind bars.

Her 14-year old son has been living with his grandmother since he was a baby.

In mitigation, defense lawyer Nick Ross said his client had been prescribed the heroin substitute methadone.

He added: “She understands that continuing to conduct herself in this way is wholly unacceptable.

“But there has been a sea-change in her life since she was remanded.

“She has been doing her utmost to turn the boat round and start a high level of engagement with her methadone reduction programme.

“She is highly motivated – if she is given a chance and if she blows it, she will hand herself in.”

McKerrow appeared via video link from Styal Women’s Prison in Cheshire in court this week, admitting to 20 breaches of a CBO and seven offenses of theft.

Bolton Crown Court

Sentencing, Judge Tom Gilbart told her: “You have an appalling history for stealing from shops and repeated anti-social criminality.

“It is well known how hard it has been for town center shops in the last few years and for frontline staff in particular and you were persistently going into them to steal.

“But you have a very troubling and sad personal history and have never had counseling or therapy for your mental health issues relating to your childhood experiences.

“Instead, you habitually entered into violent or abusive relationships and you have problems with your accommodation.

“I have reflected long and hard about your situation but you have now attempted to move away from your drug use and accommodation has been found for you.

“But you know what will happen to you if you fail to do what is expected of you.

“The graph curve of human improvement is rarely a straight line and perhaps the easier option would be to send you to prison but the best outcome in the interests of the public would be for you to take this opportunity and address your long standing issues with drugs .

“I suspect other judges might not have given you this opportunity.”

McKerrow will also have to complete a nine-month drug rehabilitation program and was made subject of a new CBO for five years.

She will have to report back to the judge every six weeks as part of court checks on her progress.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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