A SHOPLIFTER who threatened to knife an off-licence boss when he tried to stop her leaving was spared jail – because the victim had forgiven her.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Ammie Jane Guest, 28, had stolen two four-packs of lager from the general store and off-licence, in Newchurch Road, Bacup, where she was a customer, even though kindly owner Altaf Rehman had offered her credit.

As she tried to escape, Mr Rehman, attempting to bar her way, saw a five-inch serated blade in her bag, and was terrified when Guest told him: “I have been to prison. I’m not bothered about going back for anothother six months.”

After the incident last May 3, police suggested the victim meet with the defendant as part of restorative justice.

In a statement, Mr Rehman said: “I did meet her and have accepted her apology. She is now a good and regular customer.”

He added he was not put under any duress to make the statement.

Guest, a former heroin addict now on methadone, has a record for theft and violence.

Guest, of Chapel Street, Stacksteads, had admitted theft, and possessing a bladed article. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, with 12 months’ supervision, a nine-month drugs programme, and a three-month curfew, between 10pm and 6am.

Robert Elias, for Guest, said she had actively engaged with Inspire, and was on methadone.

Mr Elias added: “She has made her peace, with the help of the police, it seems, with Mr Rehman. It’s heartening if restorative justice can work. It speaks rather highly of Mr Rehman.”

Sentencing, Judge And-rew Woolman said: “For reasons best known to themselves, the prosecution have not charged you with robbery, and charged you with theft and possessing a bladed article.”

The judge said the second unusual feature, and one which had more merit, was that she had met with the victim, and he had accepted her apology.

Judge Woolman added: “You would normally go straight to prison. I have decided, because of Mr Rehman’s forgiveness of you, that I am prepared to suspend the sentence.”