A WOMAN who stole a fiver from a friend and went on to commit fraud with contactless bank cards had hit “rock bottom,” a court heard.

April Carter, who at the time was addicted to drugs, saw her friend’s purse and took the opportunity.

The following day, she stole a pair of jeans, a belt of sentimental value, a Sony Ericsson mobile phone, plus a wallet containing £60 and a contactless bank card from a second victim.

The 23-year-old spent £27 of his money in Aldi, at Magdalen Street, Colchester, and bought a £20 mobile phone top-up in an O2 store which was captured on CCTV.

Carter admitted two counts of theft and two charges of fraud by false representation but had previously denied them during her police interview.

Kristal Penrose, prosecuting, told Colchester magistrates that Carter had previous convictions for fraud and theft dating back to 2011.

However, her solicitor asked for the court to see the latest offences as isolated after getting in with a bad crowd.

Selena Dines, mitigating, explained Carter had experienced two harrowing family losses, including the death of her mother.

She said: “April found it incredibly distressing and the way she dealt with it was to block it out with drugs.

“She was vulnerable, sleeping at friends who had given her a home and before long she found herself involved in a bad crowd.

“April was at absolute rock bottom when those offences were committed.

Ms Dines added: “She went to a friend’s house to have something to eat and have a bath, saw her purse in the bag and took £5.

“There was £7 in coins that was left. She took the £5 out of desperation.

"It was at that time when she realised the state she’d got herself into and decided she wanted to turn her life around.

“A good friend took April in and got her off the drugs.

“Today, she appears before you completely drug-free.

“There’s no substitute for crack cocaine in the way you can be given methadone for a heroin addiction, so this is something she has overcome.”

Chairman of the bench, Margaret Macallan, handed Carter, of no fixed address, a conditional discharge for six months.

It means she will avoid punishment if she does not reoffend.

As well as compensating her victims a total of £154, she must pay £105 in court costs.