A MOTHER who stole a woman’s purse during a house raid has been spared jail.
Gemma Smith had called at the victim’s home in Beach Road, South Shields, looking for one of the other residents in the block.
Newcastle Crown Court heard when the kind householder went to find the person Smith was looking for, the 28-year-old crept into her flat and snatched her belongings.
Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, told the court the 38-year-old victim had just received a benefits payment intended to last two weeks, and the £79 she had left was all taken.
She told police in a victim statement: “Losing that money will have a massive impact on me.
“I am devastated to think someone would enter my room and steal from me.”
Smith, of Beethoven Street, South Shields, pleaded guilty to burglary.
Judge Jeremy Freedman said the raid was a “mean offence” but that he accepted Smith acted on the “spur of the moment” when she carried it out.
The judge said: “It is what I would describe as a sneak theft.
“It was a mean offence, not least because the complainant lost her benefits and there was implications for her.”
The judge sentenced Smith to a community order for 12 months with supervision.
The court heard Smith regrets what she did, and had gone to the block of flats with a legitimate intention of visiting someone who lived there.
She has previous convictions, but has been out of trouble for five years.