A DRUG addict who took her baby shoplifting was praised for making an effort to turn her life around when she appeared in court today (Thursday February 20).

Sarah Jane Thompson stashed stolen items in her son’s buggy and sold them on for drugs, Darlington Magistrates Court heard.

In September 2013, the 27-year-old took goods worth £98.57 from Sainsbury’s and sold them for £30 to buy amphetamine.

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Since then, Thompson – of Powlett Street, Darlington - has turned her back on drugs and is trying to turn her life around, according to probation officer Mo Sibert.

Thompson developed a drug problem when she became embroiled in an abusive relationship with a heroin user after becoming estranged from her family.

She was jailed in 2013 after committing a raft of shoplifting offences to fund her £30 a day habit but months after release, she was shoplifting again – and using her baby for cover.

Ms Sibert said her offence was aggravated by the involvement of her son but claimed Thompson was now making a concerted effort to leave behind her life of drugs and crime.

She said: “She has had a whirlwind two years. Behind her shoplifting is substance abuse and it was a massive shock for a young mother to go to prison.

“She is mortified that she took her child shoplifting and is full of remorse. “She is a young woman who became addicted to heroin at the late age of 26 and never did anything about it.

“She has not touched any form of illicit drugs since November and is a 24/7 mum crying out for additional support.

“She has a good work ethic, is clean, getting her life back on track and needs some assistance. We have three objectives today – to punish her, help her and offer change.”

Thompson pleaded guilty to one offence of shop theft and another of making off without payment after she failed to pay a taxi fare of £25 in September 2013.

She was ordered to serve a 12-month community order with supervision and must pay compensation of £123.57, split between Sainsbury’s and the taxi driver.

Chair of the bench Alistair White said: “We welcome the fact you are drug free and clearly wish to cooperate but this is your opportunity and if you blow it, you could go back to prison.”