A MAN has appeared at court after stealing car keys he found in a post office and selling them to fund a heroin addiction.

Philip McDonald appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to two charges of theft.

The offences date back to February 5, 2019 and also include the theft of three watches from Argos in Chester-le-Street valued at £30.

John Garside, prosecuting, said: “The complainant went into the post office and went to the table at the back to sort some things out, she put her car keys down and when she left she forgot them.

"The defendant was then seen collecting the keys and walking out of the store.

"When she returned to get the keys she found they had gone and her car was no longer parked where she had left it.

"On the same day the defendant entered an Argos shop, took three watches from the display and left with them."

The owner of the car said in a statement that the incident had caused her a lot of stress and inconvenience but thankfully the vehicle was found the day after it was taken.

Mark Richardson, mitigating, said McDonald, of Thomas Street, Washington, had turned his life round since the incident and had got himself over a heroin addiction.

He said: "These offences were committed when he was in the throes of a heroin addiction and he was stealing to fund that addiction. He is now living in a stable home and his circumstances are much better."

McDonald, 37, was fined £160 and ordered to pay £200 compensation to the car owner and £30 compensation to Argos.