A SERIAL fraudster from Burnley who went on a shopping spree in Durham using a bogus credit card — just days after being released from prison — has had his jail term almost halved on appeal.

Darren Thorpe, a career criminal with an 'atrocious' record, was locked up for three years at Durham Crown Court in July after admitting two counts of fraud, two of attempted theft and eight of having articles for use in fraud.

But the 44-year-old, of Violet Street, Burnley, had his sentence slashed to just 16 months after judges sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court ruled the original term was 'excessive'.

The court heard Thorpe committed the offences in June, one week after he was released from jail for an offence of dishonesty.

On June 22, he used a fraudulent credit card to buy around £250-worth of cigarettes and mobile phone top-up cards at a Tesco Extra store .

He then walked into the nearby Tesco petrol station and bought similar items, worth £150.

The following day, he returned to the supermarket and tried to buy more cigarettes, but his card was declined.

Undeterred, Thorpe went to a nearby Currys store, where he tried to buy an iPad worth £579, but the card was again declined and police were alerted.

He was arrested as he left the store and officers found he was carrying eight fake credit cards. He also asked for an offence to be taken into consideration, after he used one of the cards to put £600 on a gift card.

The court heard he had an 'atrocious' criminal record, with 160 previous offences - including theft, burglary and making false representations.

His lawyers argued the crown court judge placed too much emphasis on Thorpe's offending history and ignored the sentencing guidelines.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Underhill said Thorpe deserved a stiffer sentence than someone with no previous convictions, but that the overall term was too long.

Sitting with Lord Justice Rix and Mr Justice Mackay, he added: "Obviously, there had to be some departure from the letter of the guidelines.”