A MAN who stole a bank card and used it 13 times to buy cigarettes and alcohol said he did it because his benefits had been sanctioned.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court heard that Richard Allan Bowles picked up the bank card after he spotted it in Darlington and used the contactless payment method to spend more than £400 over two days.

The victim said in a statement: "If it had been used once for a family experiencing hardship I wouldn't mind, but that fact that it was used 13 times in two days has left me feeling angry."

Stephen Andrews, representing Bowles, said his client's benefits had been sanctioned and he carried out the offences to sell the alcohol for cash.

Bowles, 39, of Montrose Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty to theft and fraud by misrepresentation on July 6 last year.

District Judge Tim Capstick sentenced him to four weeks in custody for each offence to run concurrent. He also ordered him to pay £122 victim surcharge.