A WOMAN caught in a benefits gap went shoplifting out of desperation.

Blackburn magistrates heard Gail Marie Grogan was forced to take on debts when her benefits were changed in November and she was left with no money over Christmas.

Grogan, 48, of Walter Street, Huncoat, pleaded guilty to stealing Yankee candles worth £143 from Oswaldtwistle Mills and going equipped for theft with a foil lined bag. She was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £20 victim surcharge.

Graeme Parkinson, defending, said his client was last paid employment support allowance and did not receive her first universal credit payment until January.

"As a result she was left over Christmas with no money and had to take on some debt," said Mr Parkinson.

"She was hard up and someone suggested the lined bag and persuaded her she could get away with it."