A woman convicted of masterminding a #26,000 credit card fraud yesterday escaped jail after a Birmingham judge raised concerns about "over-crowded prisons".

Nyah Johnson used stolen identities – taken from people who had used a city centre car park she worked at – to buy goods and services from the internet, including holidays for herself and family and friends.

Days after she was arrested, and while she was still on bail, the 23-year-old went to Barbados on a holiday paid for on one of the credit cards.

Johnson, of Chester Road, Erdington, also used identities of people who had accounts at HFC bank as part of the fraud. But after defence barristers at Birmingham Crown Court called on Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins to take into account the "current climate" of over-crowded prisons, he issued a suspended sentence.

Judge Pearce-Higgins said: "She was clearly the principal in this conspiracy and obtained the benefit of #26,000."

Previous case law suggested a two-year sentence should be "considered appropriate" .

He continued: "I could either send her to an over-crowded prison, or there is another way of dealing with her. I would prefer to give her a suspended sentence."

Johnson obtained about #21,500 from credit card details of people who had used the NCP car park on Hill Street in Birmingham city centre between April and May 2005. The remaining #4,372 was obtained from bank details of HFC bank customers through her boyfriend Chase Peterkin, aged 24.

Peterkin was given the details by his other lover, Sukhvinder Samra, who worked at the bank.

Samra, aged 23, of Lincoln Tower, and Peterkin, of Verbena Gardens, Nechells, Birmingham, did not benefit from Johnson's fraud.

Johnson, who had previous convictions for shoplifting, admitted one count of conspiracy and six of obtaining by deception.

She was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for two years and attend a women's programme.

Peterkin and Samra admitted one count of conspiracy and were given two-year supervision orders.