A SHOPLIFTER who has spent nearly all of this year serving jail terms has been given a second chance.

June Downing, who did not get into trouble until she was 30, spent two or three years committing endless crimes because of drugs, Barnsley Magistrates' Court was told.

She spent more than 14 years off drugs, on the straight and narrow and had a job helping others with similar problems she had had, her solicitor Sean Fritchley said.

Mr Fritchley said Downing, 50, went back on drugs and started shoplifting last year when she had to care for her mother who suffered a stroke.

He said Downing, of Doles Crescent, Royston, was ready to give up drugs again.

Mr Fritchley added: "She has repeatedly stolen things to buy drugs. She has given up drugs and led a blameless life before and she can do it again."

Diane Goodwill, prosecuting, said Downing stole from a shop on Market Street while on court bail for stealing meat from the Co-op.

District Judge John Foster described Downing's stop-start criminal career as 'strange'.

He said: "You have failed to stop offending and it has been prison virtually all this year. What a waste.

"Your parents are old and frail. It would be a considerable fillip for them if you can keep out of trouble and successfully tackle your drugs problem. It would also improve your life.

"This will be a long haul. You know what the prize is at the end. The alternative is jail." 

Downing, who admitted shoplifting, was ordered to undergo six months of drug rehabilitation and given a 32-week jail sentence, suspended for a year.

She was ordered to pay a total of £74.18 in compensation, costs of £85 and an £80 victim surcharge.