A primary school teacher who was wanted by Asda for prolific shoplifting was finally caught after she appeared on Come Dine With Me.
Sophie Hunter-Brown’s face was well known to staff at the supermarket for her notorious stealing behaviour, but it wasn’t until they spotted the 30-year-old on a re-run of the Channel 4 cooking series that she was found out.
As reported by the Mirror Online, she was arrested for the string of supermarket thefts at the store in Aberdare, South Wales after she was spotted on TV hosting a Thai full-moon beach party during her night of Come Dine With Me. She came third out of five contestants in her appearance on the show.
At a disciplinary hearing yesterday, it was revealed she’d turned to shoplifting food after running into “financial difficulty” over her high-spending. There’s no news on whether she actually used food she’d nicked during her appearance on the show though.
Melinka Berridge, the presenting officer at the disciplinary hearing, explained how the teacher would use self service tills at the supermarket to steal groceries – apparently she’d bag up the items, offer a card payment, but then take out her card before the payment was made. Sneaky.
Ms Hunter-Brown was eventually confronted by security staff after being recognised from her TV image, and linked to three previous non-payments – with a total loss to Asda of £83.
She claimed to a security guard at the time that she was suffering from financial difficulties and “couldn’t afford to feed herself”, which is why she’d tried to steal the food.
The teacher was later given a conditional caution after admitting theft and was ordered to pay Asda compensation. She’s now been banned from all Asda stores.
However, at her Education Workforce Council hearing in Cardiff – where she avoided being struck off the teacher’s register – she offered a different version of events, denying she knew she hadn’t paid for her shopping between April and July 2014.
It was a mistake not to check that the payments had gone through. It was the result of personal stress in my life. Had I been taken to a police station instead of being interviewed in the back of Asda and given time to collect my thoughts I would’ve answered differently. I didn’t feel I could handle a whole court hearing, and I didn’t want to take time off work. So I just accepted it.
Although the committee found her actions amounted to unacceptable professions conduct, she was let off with a reprimand to stay on her record for two years, as there was no indication her behaviour had affected her ability to teach.