A DRUG offender’s impassioned plea that her days of substance misuse are over did not fall on deaf ears.

But Judge Ray Singh said he was taking a chance allowing Ashlea Pinder her release from custody and warned her of the consequences of any lapse back to drug use.

She appeared before Durham Crown Court via a video link from Low Newton Women’s Prison, in the city.

Pinder, 28, formerly of Wedgewood Road, Seaham, admitted a charge of robbery.

It relates to an incident at her mother’s home where she visited seeking money for her daily heroin fix, on April 21.

She initially rang her reluctant sister, who had previously helped Pinder, but was initially unwilling to give her any more money.

The call ended when her sister agreed to collect loose change round the house totalling £4 to give to her, but, due to social distancing amid the lockdown she said she would leave it on the doorstep.

Pinder then said she was going to the bathroom, but her suspicious mother followed her upstairs and saw her entering her bedroom.

Susan Hirst, prosecuting, said Pinder claimed she was looking for clothing, but her mother said she had already collected a bag.

Miss Hirst said Pinder then pushed her mother, who was recovering from a stroke, against a wall and, while pressing her in the neck with one hand, used the other to remove her purse from her dressing gown pocket.

Pinder then fled the house and dropped the purse, having removed two £20 notes.

Her mother rang 999 to report what had taken place.

Pinder was arrested six days later and claimed she was removing unused board money paid to her mother as she was asked to leave after she and her boyfriend smoked cannabis.

She told police she was a heroin addict, using £25-worth of the drug per day, paid for with benefits and loans from family members, as she was unable to go shoplifting due to the lockdown.

Miss Hirst said Pinder’s offending history, all in the last six years, includes 51 offences for theft and other dishonesty, mainly shoplifting.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, said: “Having spoken to her at length I can say she has considerable regret for the lifestyle she has led.

“She can be articulate and a decent young woman when not on drugs.”

Miss Waugh said Pinder has worked with the prison substance misuse team while on remand and is now helping other inmates coming off drugs.

Pinder, herself, urged Judge Singh to give her a chance to prove she was over the use of drugs.

Judge Singh said he was taking “a risk” and imposed a 20-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 35-probation led rehabilitation activity days as part of a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement, to include monthly court assessments as to her progress.

He also made her subject of a three-year restraining order, prohibiting her from going to her mother’s home.

Judge Singh added: “I don’t want to be looked at as foolish, so don’t let me down.”

Pinder replied: “I promise, I won’t let you down.”