A PHARMACY dispenser stole drugs to sell when she hit money troubles.

Jennifer Lane's crimes were detected when managers queried why so many orders were being made for Zoplicone sleeping tablets.

Teesside Crown Court heard that the 34-year-old had already stopped stealing the medication before she was caught.

Lane, of Ainthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, admitted theft and was given a 12-month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

Judge Howard Crowson told her: "If you fail, we will have to meet again.

"The fact that they were sold on and other people might use them illicitly is an aggravating feature."

Andrew Turton, mitigating, said Lane had been asked by a drug dealer to steal the pills, and she was having cash problems after her benefits were stopped.

"The offence itself was unsophisticated," Mr Turton added. "It appears that although reticent to start with, her conscience got the better of her and good sense prevailed.

"Because of her financial difficulties, she was vulnerable to the suggestion of doing what she did. Initially, she refused, but gave in to temptation and desperation."

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told the court that the 40 boxes of tablets amounted to £32.