A MAN who had only recently been released from prison was twice caught on camera stealing from stores in Burnley town centre.

Blackburn magistrates heard David Hodgson-Smith claimed he was caught in a poverty trap after being released with a £46 discharge grant and then having to wait six weeks for a benefits claim to come through.

Hodgson-Smith, 35, of Hudson Street, Burnley, admitted stealing £98-worth of products from Boots on February 29 and jackets worth £347 from Marks & Spencer on March 1. He was remanded on bail for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said Hodgson-Smith was seen on CCTV removing display items in Boots and then leaving without making any attempt to pay.

The following day he was again caught on CCTV, this time in Boots, in company with two other men.

“An assistant was alerted by a customer about the theft of some jackets,” said Mrs Yates.

“She had just stocked the rack and was aware that seven jackets were missing. The defendant was recognised from the CCTV footage.”

Mark Williams, defending, said following his release from prison Hodgson-Smith was unable to get a benefits advance.

“His £46 discharge grant didn’t go far and it was six weeks before his benefits came through,” said Mr Williams.

“The offences were fairly blatant, with no attempt to conceal his identity.”

Mr Williams said his client was now in receipt of benefits and he was working with the probation service and Inspire, the drink and drug agency.

“Significantly, it has been four months since the first of these offences and there have been no further offences,” said Mr Williams.