TWO shoplifters stole almost £300 worth of items from a cosmetics shop because their benefits had been cut, a court heard.

Ian Cuskern, of Wembley Way, Stockton, and Stacey Lee, of St Pauls Street, Stockton, stole £132.83 worth of items from Semichem, in Northgate, Darlington, on October 3.

They then returned on October 19 to steal a further £152.74 worth of items from the shop, the town’s magistrates heard.

Choi Cheng, mitigating, said the pair had committed the thefts because their benefits had been cut.

He said Cuskern, 32, was in severe financial difficulties and homeless at the time of the thefts, but has since begun working towards an NVQ after a stint in prison.

He told the court Lee, 30, was also sentenced to a community order for offences committed late last year and had been working well with the Probation Service.

They both admitted two charges of shoplifting and magistrates sentenced them both to a 12-month conditional discharge.

They were also ordered to pay £142.50 compensation each.

Chairwoman of the bench Patricia Wilson said: “We look very badly on somebody who comes into Darlington from out of town with a view to stealing, and coming back and doing it again.”