A PERSISTENT shoplifter has been spared jail for the sake of her six-year-old child.

Katrina Bensley appeared at Darlington Magistrates’ Court for sentencing today (Thursday, February 21) after previously pleading guilty to shop theft and admitting that it put her in breach of a suspended prison sentence for the second time.

Bensley, 28, of Eldon Street, Darlington also admitted breaking a curfew previously imposed by the court.

Mitigating, Sam Brewster said Bensley was a single mother who raised her young son with “little or no support” and that she had “a compulsion” to steal.

He said: “This isn’t your typical shoplifter; this isn’t someone who is going out stealing to pay for drugs or alcohol or really for any sort of gain for herself, but as a result of a very long standing compulsion to steal.”

He added: “Katrina Bensley recognises that she has a problem and has been stealing since she was a little girl.

“She wants to address that and change her ways because she appreciates this has gone on for long enough.”

After reading a psychiatric report and retiring to consider their sentence, magistrates decided not to activate the suspended prison sentence but warned Bensley she would get no more chances.

Presiding magistrate Christine Selby said that she had taken into account the fact that Bensley had a child and that she now seemed to be accepting help from the probation service.

Bensley was fined £55 and ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Her suspended prison sentence order was extended by three months and she was put under a community order with eight months’ supervision.