A 46-YEAR-old woman claimed she was shoplifting and a took part in a refund scam to fund trips to Cambridge to visit her dying mother.

Blackburn magistrates heard Tracey Kim Brown was subject to a community order at the time of the offences but had failed to comply with substance abuse requirements.

And despite a plea by her solicitor, Catherine Fell, to allow Brown to spend time with her mum during the last few months of her life magistrates imposed an immediate prison sentence.

Brown, 46, of Edgeworth Grove, Burnley, pleaded guilty to five charges of shoplifting and two charges of fraud by false representation. She was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said one of the thefts involved six replica Burnley FC shirts stolen from the club shop.

On two occasions Brown stole a pair of shoes and then took them back and got a refund gift token because she didn't have a receipt.

Miss Fell said her client's record made it clear she had a heroin problem but that was not the motivation for the recent offending.

"She has found out her mother is dying from a lung disease," said Miss Fell. "The prognosis is that she will not live until Christmas. My client has been committing these offences to get some money so she can go down to Cambridge to see her. She said she is trying to see as much as possible of her mum because she knows she is not going to live much longer."

Miss Fell said she understood the magistrates would look on the matters very seriously but asked them to give her client's circumstances some thought.

"I would ask you to suspend any prison sentence because she only has a few months left with her mum and she wants to get as much time with her as possible," added Miss Fell.