A THIEF, who was in 'dire straits,' has been sentenced by magistrates.

Denise Brill-Edwards, of Union Street, Ulverston, stole alcohol and food on three separate occasions in May and sold them on to pay for her gas and electricity.

Brill-Edwards, who pleaded guilty to three charges of theft at South Cumbria Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, stole in total £302.65 of items from Booths in Ulverston as well as the Co-op in Ulverston and Dalton before she was identified by Cumbria Police.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly told magistrates that Brill-Edwards, who had already committed 46 theft-related offences, attended Booths on May 16, where she stole alcohol, stole alcohol and food from a Co-op in Dalton on May 19, before again stealing alcohol from a Co-op in Ulverston on May 23.

Brill-Edwards had been released from custody earlier this year and defence solicitor Michael Graham explained that the defendant had been without benefits and was struggling.

Mr Graham said: "The facts of the matter are that these were unsophisticated and low-value offences.

"She was released from custody on April 26 and didn’t have any benefits. She was in dire straits financially.

"These items she took were sale items. She was without gas and electricity and without benefits and selling the items for a fraction in order to get gas.

"I am told she is engaging with the probation service since her release and complied with her curfew.

"She has told me she is not taking any substances, engaging with Unity and tells me she is making progress with them.

"It is the first steps forward that she is taking to put her past behind her."

Chair of the bench Sharron Gillam told Brill-Edwards: "We have listened to everything said to us today and we feel, given your previous record and convictions, it is right to give you a community penalty."

As a result, Brill-Edwards will now serve a 10-week curfew, where she will be required to stay at her home address from 5.00pm until 5.00am.

Brill-Edwards was also ordered to pay compensation to Booths.