AN opportunist thief has been ordered to pay £250 compensation after stealing a mobile phone during a meeting with a housing benefits officer.
Mandy Kerrigan spotted the Apple iPhone after it was left on a chair at Jarrow Town Hall on Thursday, August 15, last year.
But she was seen leaving with the phone by its owner after she realised that she had forgotten it.
The 33-year-old initially denied the theft, but changed her plea to guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
She had sold the phone, valued at £250, for £50, she admitted.
Kerrigan, of Hudson Street, South Shields, was given a conditional discharge by magistrates, but was ordered to pay compensation of £250 to the victim, as well as £125 costs and a £15 surcharge.
Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “The injured party had attended an interview with the housing benefits team at Jarrow Town Hall.
“She had placed her phone on a chair. After she left her appointment, she realised she had left her phone behind.”
The victim went back to the town hall and saw a woman leaving with an iPhone, and when she went back inside, she found her phone was missing.
The court heard that a housing benefit officer said only the defendant and the female victim had been in her office for meetings that morning.
Valerie Bell, defending, said: “This was out of character. There was no premeditation or planning.”
“Clearly it was wrong, which is why she has pleaded guilty.”
Elaine McCullough, chair of the magistrates’ bench, told Kerrigan: “If you ever find another item, hand it in. As you have discovered today, it was a very costly mistake.”