A SHOPLIFTER claimed he stole to eat after losing the card that gave him access to his funds.

Blackburn magistrates heard Patrick Francis Harris was desperate because he hadn't eaten for days.

Harris, 40, of Higson Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to stealing meat worth £45 from Lidl.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody suspended for 12 months after the magistrates heard the offence was committed just two days after he was made subject to a curfew order for three offences of shoplifting.

Damien Pickup, defending, said the majority of his client's offending had been to fund a long standing drug problem but the latest offences were different.

He said his client had a bank card issued by Jubilee Tower Credit Union, a charitable organisation which aimed to help people who can't get mainstream bank accounts.

"His universal credit is paid to them and he uses the card they issued to make withdrawals," said Mr Pickup.

"Unfortunately he lost his card. He had no money to get to Darwen, where he could have accessed his money directly and couldn't walk there because of a problem with his leg.

"Yesterday he was desperate and he stole this meat to eat."

Mr Pickup said Harris was due to meet someone from the Credit Union later in the day in Blackburn and he would be issued with a new card.