A WOMAN descended into a life of crime and drug addiction after her husband left her for a man.

Michaela Tothova, 32, was told by a judge yesterday that her prolific shoplifting made her a “menace to society”.

She was handed a 12-month prison sentence for one count of breaching her suspended sentence and two counts of theft when she appeared at Basildon Crown Court.

Tothova, of no fixed address, has 20 convictions for 40 offences of shoplifting, theft and related matters.

The court heard Czech-born Tothova became hooked on heroin after her life fell apart following the devastating split from her partner.

He left her for another man and fled with her three young children aged eight, seven and four to the Czech Republic.

He has refused to let her see or speak to them.

The court heard Tothova became hooked on heroin after being introduced to the drug by her cousin.

She was unable to claim benefits because she did not have a passport or identity documents and turned to a life of crime to pay for her habit.

The court heard that she had been handed numerous punishments including a drug rehabilitation order, conditional discharges and suspended sentences but nothing worked.

Tothova was handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, when she appeared at Southend Magi-strates’ Court on June 21 last year.

But on January 30 this year she stole £128 of meat from Sainsbury’s in Southend.

While still on bail for that offence she stole two coats worth about £60 from H&M in Southend High Street, on February 2.

Tothova admitted the charges.

Sentencing her to jail, Recorder Gallagher, said: “This is a profoundly depressing case for me to be sentencing you on.

“You have what can only be described as an appalling record in respect of matters such as theft.

“You have a serious drug habit, but the only person who can rebuild the pieces of your life is yourself. You have one life and one life only, and time will eventually run out.

“Your offences have been described as nuisance offences, but I consider you a serious and serial offender.

“These offences do harm to shopkeepers and businesses whose goods are stolen.

“You are a menace to society. I have no other option than immediate custody.”