A WOMAN has been given the chance to prove she can turn her life around after admitting helping to break into a restaurant and steal hundreds of pounds worth of booze.

Aimee McGee was one of three people who targeted the Old Tapas Bar in Darlington at the height of the Covid restrictions.

The 33-year-old and her two accomplices smashed their way into the town centre restaurant and bar before escaping with their haul of premium spirits, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said: "They approached the rear yard of the property, the male climbed over the wall, came back and collected a bag from the defendant.

"He then smashed his way into the property and removed a large quantity of spirits and was assisted by the defendant to take the spirits from the property.

"The premises were closed because of Covid and these kind of businesses are currently really struggling."

Mr Abrahams said the business owner had been left significantly out of pocket by the burglary as he was forced to replace the stock and pay for repairs to the smashed window whilst also increasing security measures of the town centre business.

In a victim personal statement, George Turnbull said: "It caused us unnecessary stress at a time of Covid 19. We had to have the window replaced at a cost of £200.

"We have decided to have metal bars fitted to the windows to stop this happening again."

Mr Abrahams said the defendant was also in breach of a suspended sentence and a community order for previous offences of assault and drink driving when she crashed a car into a wall in Darlington whilst three times over the limit.

McGee, of Shakespeare Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to the burglary on June 1 this year.

Michele Turner, in mitigation, said her client had struggled with substance abuse and mental health problems but she would welcome the opportunity to respond to intervention from the probation service.

She added: "When she crashed the car into the wall, this was a suicide attempt – she had never driven a before. She jumped into a friend's car and drove into the wall to harm herself."

Judge Paul Watson QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, decided to defer sentence until just before Christmas to give McGee the opportunity to work with the probation service.

He said: "You will have to start to do the rehabilitation activity requirement days and re-engage with the probation service to carry out their lawful instructions.

"I'm going to defer sentence right up to just before Christmas.

"You could easily receive a sentence of 12-months if you tot up all the offences but if you continue to engage with the probation service that can give me cause for more optimism."

McGee will return to court on December 21 for sentence.