A CUSTOMER at a Blackburn town centre coffee shop returned to her seat to find her handbag missing.

Blackburn magistrates heard Faye Chantelle Willoughby was identified as the thief but had already spent the £120 that was in the bag by the time police tracked her down.

Willoughby, 21, of Stonyhurst Road, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to theft of a handbag belonging to Sarah Helliwell. She was made subject to a conditional discharge for six months and ordered to pay £120 compensation and £65 costs.

Andy Robinson, prosecuting, said Mrs Helliwell had hung her handbag over the back of her chair while she was in Costa Coffee. She went to the counter and when she came back it had gone.

Michael Blacklidge, defending, said Willoughby apologised for her behaviour which was totally out of character.

He said at the time of the offence Willoughby had recently moved into her own flat with her baby and the cost of independent living was higher than she expected.

He said: “As she was leaving Costa Coffee she saw the handbag and picked it up.

“She spent the money but the bag and all the other contents were recovered.”