A SERIAL shoplifter who has been stealing throughout her life has been described as “invaluable member of the community” by a sheriff.

Joan Meiklejohn’s latest offences were stealing alcohol from the same shop twice within three days, helping herself to booze worth more than £90.

Meiklejohn, 49, of Lumphinnans Road, Lochgelly, appeared for sentencing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

She admitted that on April 18, at the Co-op, Bank Street, Lochgelly, she stole a quantity of alcohol and then repeated that offence on April 20.

The court heard Meiklejohn was already on two community payback orders for similar offences.

Defence solicitor David McLaughlin said: “She’s struggled with this type of offending throughout her entire life."

However, on this occasion, the solicitor put the blame on “an acquaintance” of Meikejohn who was staying with her after coming out of jail.

"She’s a helpful woman. She put up an acquaintance who then exploited her," he told the court.

Visiting sheriff Robert More said the social work report was one of the most positive he had read.

The sheriff commented: “She’s undoubtedly an invaluable member of the community.”

The sheriff ordered Meiklejohn to pay compensation of £46.50 and £45.

Last year, Sheriff Alastair Brown told Meiklejohn: “Your record is atrocious. People who run shops are entitled to the protection of the courts.”

However, she has continued to offend and earlier this year, Sheriff Susan Duff told Meiklejohn that at 49 it was time she changed her ways.

However, after leaving court that day, Meiklejohn was caught stealing alcohol from Marks and Spencer.

Sheriff David Hall then commented: “I see she’s on a community payback order already and it was imposed the same day of this offence. She must have been celebrating."