A WOMAN who stole alcohol three times in six weeks has been given a conditional discharge at court.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court heard that Karen Eldrett stole two bottles of rum from a Co-Op store in Bowburn on September 3, a bottle of rum two weeks after and a bottle of vodka three weeks after that.

The 54-year-old pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and asked for the other offences to be taken into consideration.

John Garside, prosecuting, said: "This is a straightforward theft, the defendant has taken two bottles of rum valued at £28 from the Co-Op and was later identified from CCTV.

"She made full and frank admissions in police interview explaining that she had consumed the products."

Eldrett was last at court on October 24 for a public order offence, again on September 24 for another public order offence and prior to that July 30 for a different matter,

Warren Ridley, mitigating, said Eldrett had issues with alcohol and used it "as a crutch".

He said: "These offences all stem from a traumatic few years in her life, and up until three or four years ago she had very little on her record.

"The death of her long-term partner, the loss of a child 20 years ago and the more recent death of her mother have all had an effect on her and she is struggling to deal with all of it.

"She turns to alcohol when she is feeling low which is quite often. She drinks too much and then wants more and when she does not have the funds she steals.

"She understands she should not be committing these offences."

Eldrett, of Edna Street, Bowburn, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.