A MOTHER-of-two has been jailed after stealing a mobile phone from a probation officer and repeatedly shoplifting to fund her drug habit.

Katie Carruthers of Tom Raine Court, Darlington, had 22 previous convictions and was serving three community orders as well as being the subject of a conditional discharge when she stole the phone on January 28, the court heard.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to the theft and also admitted stealing two bottles of vodka from North Road Co-op on November 12, failing to answer bail on January 2 and possessing a Class A drug on January 25.

Prosecutor John Garside said she stole the £200 HTC phone from a staff member's handbag inside the Darlington probation office building.

Brenda Robertson, of the probation service, said that as part of her community sentences she was required to regularly attend meetings - but turned up to only half her appointments.

Sam Brewster, mitigating, told Darlington Magistrates Court that Carruthers was doing her best to cut down on heroin substitute methadone.

He said when Carruthers stole the vodka she was with a friend who ran off without paying and she panicked and followed him.

Mr Brewster added that the wrap of heroin Carruthers was caught with  was a “one-off”, to supplement her methadone treatment, while the phone theft as a “spur of the moment” offence.

“Obviously she is someone with a very long-standing drug problem."

Jailing her for a total of 18 weeks, District Judge Adrian Lower told Carruthers: “You have been given every opportunity in recent times to address what lies behind your offending.”