The town's magistrates heard how young dad Ashley Lord kept the cash and some bank cards after giving in to temptation.
The 24-year-old had originally been given a caution over the stealing, on condition he wrote victim Kathleen Cleary a letter of apology and repaid the money. He had completed the letter, but not handed over the £283.
The defendant, of Laithe Street, Burnley, admitted theft in the town on February 22nd. He was given a 12 -month conditional discharge and must pay the £283 back.
Mrs Tracy Yates (prosecuting) said Lord made no attempt to find the victim after she dropped the purse or to hand it in.
He was identified after a Facebook appeal, which included CCTV stills and he attended the police station. The defendant was questioned and said at first he had intended to hand the purse back, but he was tempted by the money. He had four previous convictions.
Mr Nick Dearing (defending) said: "This was a spontaneous matter of theft. He stumbled across the item. He acknowledges that temptation took over. "
The solicitor said the defendant had psychiatric issues and was on benefits. His payments had been sanctioned and he had had debts.
"Simply having to come to court has been a distressing experience for him. He believed he had put all this behind him. He spends most of his time as a full time, hands-on, caring father."