A WOMAN who falsely claimed to be homeless and slept in a tent despite holding keys to her own house has been banned from a North-East town centre.

Kelly Ward had pretended to be homeless as she scrounged for cash from residents and visitors in Middlesbrough town centre.

The 35-year-old, who had obtained a Big Issue vendor's badge, slept in a tent in the town centre on a 'number of' occasions.

But after being investigated following complaints from members of the public, Ward was given a civil injunction order secured by Middlesbrough Council.

The order, which was granted by Middlesbrough County Court, now means Ward is banned from entering the town's main retail and leisure spaces until July 24, 2021.

Under the injunction she is forbidden from entering much of Middlesbrough town centre and from enticing or begging from any person in the town.

Any breach of the injunction is classed as a civil contempt of court, resulting in an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

On Monday, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "Middlesbrough's a generous and compassionate town - there's really no need for anyone to be homeless, let alone begging on the streets.

"The support's there for those in genuine need, and we work really hard to help people access services.

"But this sort of behaviour drags Middlesbrough down and destroys jobs and futures by putting people off from coming into town to shop or enjoy a night out.

"This exclusion zone sends a clear message that we won't let selfish people bring Middlesbrough down."

  • To report anti-social behaviour call 01642 726001 or email asbunit@middlesbrough.gov.ukTo report a crime or criminal activity, call Cleveland Police on 101 or in an emergency 999