A THIEVING student has been told to stop ‘sponging off the state’ and ‘get a job’ by one of the country’s most senior judges.

Lord Justice Thomas made the comments during an appeal by 19-year-old Nathan Peter David Levis, who claimed he could not afford to repay £2,000 he stole from his father’s girlfriend.

Levis, of Scotland Bank Terrace, Blackburn, was given a 14-month suspended sentence at Preston Crown Court in June after he admitted theft — and was ordered to repay the full amount.

But lawyers for the catering student came to London’s Court of Appeal, arguing he was so hard up he simply could not afford to cover the bill.

Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with two other senior judges, agreed to reduce the total amount of compensation — but went on to triple the speed at which Levis must repay his victim.

The judge told the court the ‘thoroughly despicable’ theft took place when Levis visited his father’s home last Christmas.

While there, he took £2,000 cash belonging to his father’s girlfriend, Serena Tierney.

Philip Holden, for Levis, said he could not remember what he had spent the money on — but some of it had gone on drink.

He argued Levis should not be forced to repay the full amount as he was turning his life around by taking a catering course and that, by ordering him to pay, the court was ‘setting him up for a fall’.

Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Silber and Mrs Justice Sharp, agreed to cut Levis’s bill to £1,800 — but increased the ‘derisory’ £5-a-week rate at which it is currently being repaid to £15-a-week.

He told the court: “It seems to us that he has to face up to the responsibilities that he has, by his criminal conduct, incurred.

"There is no reason why he should not repay a substantial part of the amount that he took.

"We are prepared to reduce to £1,800 the amount, to be repaid £15 per week.

If this means that he has to get a job while studying, then he will have to do that.

"He cannot simply sponge it off the state, nor can he rely on the fact that his accommodation costs £400 per month.

"He has to find cheaper accommodation.”