A SINGLE mother who claimed mental health problems were behind her persistent shoplifting has been warned she faces jail.

Katrina Bensley, 27, of Eldon Street, Darlington appeared at the town’s magistrates’ court today (Thursday, December 6) to plead guilty to stealing a £30 pair of jeans from Republic in Darlington on November 16.

She also asked for three other thefts to be taken into account.

A probation report read to the court stated that Miss Bensley had repeatedly been offered help and referrals to address her problems with depression, but she had not engaged with the service.

Mo Sibert of the probation service said: “We are not washing our hands of her, probation would never do that, but if a person of such a high standard as Miss Bensley’s officer says that that we have tried everything, she means it.

“The bottom line is that Katrina Bensley needs professional help that we can’t give her to address her mental health problems; we are an enforcement agency and we are very good at what we do.

“She has had every referral she needs.”

District Judge Kristina Harrison told Miss Bensley’s solicitor that the only way she would be spared jail was if a psychiatric referral was made.

She adjourned the case until January 17 for a psychiatric report and a pre-sentence report to be prepared and warned Miss Bensley that she would go to prison “straightaway” if she offends while on bail.

Judge Harrison added: “I don’t want to deprive a six-year-old child of its mother over Christmas; the choice is hers really.”