A SINGLE mother-of-five was left "shaking with fear" after she was arrested by police in front of her young children - over rubbish bags left outside of her home.

Stacey Storey, 31, appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court on Tuesday after Durham County Council prosecuted her for one count of depositing controlled waste on land without a permit.

The court heard that her rubbish bin was stolen and as she wasn't able to afford a new one, she was putting her rubbish outside in tightly secured black refuse sacks where her rubbish is usually collected from.

She said: "There was a loud knock at the door just before 8am on Tuesday morning and when I opened it there were police officers standing there. One of them said "we have a warrant for your arrest."

"I stood and stared, I just couldn't believe it and at first couldn't understand why they would want to arrest me.

"They explained that I had to appear before the court that day and if I refused they'd return later and it might mean my kids had to be taken care of by social services while I was in custody.

"I was panicking and asked if I could have time to get the children looked after - they were all getting ready for school and nursery.

"I rang my mum, my dad and my sister and asked them to come over as soon as they could and they came to look after the children while I was led into the back of a police van.

"When I got to the police station at Peterlee I was put in a cell for two hours until I could appear before the court by video link.

"As I sat there in the cell I was really scared and wondering what was going to happen to me - all over putting my rubbish in black bags."

Ms Storey was given a conditional discharge for 12 months during her court appearance, which saw District Judge Roger Lowe ask why more help was not offered to get the single mother-of-five a replacement bin.

It has since emerged that as a family of six, Ms Storey should have had three bins, instead of the one which was stolen.

The 31-year-old added: "The bin went missing months ago. I reported it to the police but I didn't get a replacement so the only thing I could do was put my rubbish out in strong black plastic bags.

"Loads of people do it in the alleyway and I didn't realise I was doing anything wrong. People also come from other parts of the town and fly tip rubbish there.

"All I did was put my rubbish in thick plastic sacks that were securely tied while I waited for a new bin that never came.

"I was singled out because the warden tore my bags open and got my address from some letters in there. After that they were determined not to let it drop but it seems unfair I was singled out.

"All this has led to us getting two new bins plus a recycling bin - why couldn't that have happened without me being arrested in front of my children?"

Oliver Sherratt, Durham County Council’s head of environment, said: “Where possible, we will always try an education approach first as in this instance where on the first offence, a duty of care warning letter rather than a fine was issued, and the resident advised that she needed to contact the council for a new bin. However, it was disappointing to see more rubbish left out when we returned weeks later.

“Regrettably, we had to make the difficult decision to charge £20 to replace lost or stolen bins in April 2011 following an unprecedented reduction in government funding.”