Hartlepool mum stole from Poundland, B&M and Primark after Universal Credit payments stopped
A mum turned to shoplifting to feed herself after her Universal Credit benefits were stopped for four weeks after she missed an appointment, a court heard.
Sally-Anne Burnham, 41, had her normal benefits – which are £259 every two weeks – halted after she missed a single appointment, a court heard.
She was left with no money to feed and clothe herself and felt forced to steal from various high street stores.
However, the judge told her that her desperate circumstances ‘”do not excuse’ her actions.
Burnham, of Cornwall Street, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.
The thefts all relate to incidents on March 29, 2019 in Hartlepool.
Burnham admitted stealing items worth £46 from Poundland, items worth £184 from B&M and items worth £11 from Primark.
Her defence solicitor Adam Hodge described her actions as a typical example of criminality arising out of Universal Credit sanctions.
He said: “She missed an appointment and she was sanctioned for four weeks and felt she had no option other than to commit offences of this type in order to feed and clothe herself.
“For four weeks she was without any monies.
“That is the only reason she committed these offences.”
Mr Hodge told the court how recovering heroin addict Burnham had not committed any offences for almost two years.
Burnham – who has a daughter – is doing well on her methadone drug treatment programme, he said.
Chairman of the bench Jay Leonard agreed that a conditional discharge was the right option for sentencing.
She told Burnham: “The circumstances do not excuse what you did.”
Burnham was given a 12-month community order and told to pay costs of £40 and a £20 victim surcharge.
Earlier this year journalists from across JPIMedia – the parent company of the Hartlepool Mail – ran an in-depth investigation into the human impact of Universal Credit.
For more information, search “Universal Credit” on our website www. hartlepoolmail.co.uk