A FREQUENT shoplifter who denied being able to speak English when she was caught stealing groceries in Abergavenny has avoided jail.

Jean Fraser, 61, of Hatherleigh Close, Abergavenny, pleaded guilty to taking goods worth £15.59 at Aldi in Abergavenny on July 21, and failing to surrender to bail on August 6, when she appeared before Newport Magistrates Court yesterday (Monday).

Ruth Hale, prosecuting, told District Judge Martin Brown that Fraser was captured on the store's CCTV and a shop assistant recognised her.

The footage showed her picking up food and putting it in a floral bag before leaving the store.

When she was detained by security staff and asked if she had a receipt she said: "I don't speak in English."

The goods were recovered.

District Judge Brown described Fraser as a "frequent shoplifter".

Nathan Fear, mitigating, said Fraser failed to appear at court earlier in the month when someone let her down over a lift, and said she had a "significant" issue with alcohol misuse.

Fraser was sentenced to 12 weeks' imprisonment for theft and eight weeks consecutively for the bail offence, totalling 20 weeks, suspended for 12 months.

She must pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.