Financial difficulties led a woman to beg on Barking’s streets

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- Credit: Archant

Begging was the “only option other than stealing”, a cash-strapped woman told Barkingside Magistrates’ Court.

Gemma Portelli pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of begging in a public place and claimed she committed the offences due to a mixture of mental health issues and financial concerns.

The 29-year-old, of Axe Street, Barking, was seen to be begging near Barking Station on March 31 and June 11 before being arrested by police officers on the second occasion having approached around ten people for money.

Defending, Romeo Maku-Kemi, said a stoppage in her benefits coupled with mental health issues including bi-polar disorder were the reason she went out and begged for money.

“She told me she had no option but to go out and beg rather than steal,” he said.

“She said she isn’t going to beg anymore because it is her birthday soon and her parents are going to give her money.”

Portelli was given a conditional discharge of 12 months by chairman of the bench Francis Niman and told to pay a victim surcharge of £15.