A 21-year-old jailed for her part in the summer riots is helping other youngsters stay out of trouble and says her actions were "wrong".Well, she didn’t get long, then, did she?
Alicia Smith served six weeks of a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to entering with intent to steal.Heh! Shocker…
So, what did the little cherub do?
The student, from South Norwood, was arrested on August 8 at Argos in Church Street, carrying ten packets of Hubba Bubba chewing gum she had stolen minutes before from a nearby convenience store.Not exactly the crime of the century, and certainly not motivated by hunger or grinding poverty, either!
The conviction cost Alicia her job as a La Senza sales assistant, but she has resumed her voluntary role as a teaching assistant at Educational Excellence, a tutorial college that specialises in getting youngsters "back on track".
What was the motivation?
It was after leaving the college in Brighton Road, South Croydon, during the early evening of August 8 that, Alicia said, she got caught up in the riots.Good grief!
"I had to pass through Croydon on my way home," she said.
"The bus stopped running at Croydon because of what was going on.
"Everyone was just getting caught up in the moment. It was not like I could not afford the gum; it was just there.
"Then the police started closing in."
The photography student was left stunned when she and her sister, a model who became a poster girl in the national media for rioters' privileged lives, were jailed.And has she learned her lesson?
"After we were arrested, I thought, OK, we are going to have to pay a fine," Alicia said.Oh, you’re quite right there, it should. You should have done the whole six months.
"But then we saw from prison what had happened; we knew that would reflect on us.
"My mother was expecting me home any minute – my main concern was my parents.
"Of course what I did was wrong – at the end of the day, that is someone else's property.
"But at the same time, the punishment should fit the crime."
Alicia says she is lucky in being able to do something constructive after her conviction.That’s a familiar refrain from people caught committing crimes, isn’t it?
She said: "I spoke to people inside who had lost their jobs due to their riot convictions.
"When you get out, they offer to put you on Job Seeker's Allowance, other benefits. It is like they want you to be a bum. But I did not want to be that person."