Prolific Burnley thief caught stealing again despite kicking 25-year drug habit

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court
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A prolific thief says she has kicked a 25-year heroin addiction after 10 weeks in France - having detox funded by her sister.

Mother-of-three Diane Caswell (43) returned home to Burnley "free from any illegal substances" after the programme of "alternative therapies", a court was told.

Ex- school cleaner Caswell has 135 offences on her record, which started in 2000 and has been in and out of jail. She has blamed her past crimes on her habit, but hasn't stopped offending even though she is now said to be clean.

Caswell has been back before magistrates again, after stealing toiletries worth £66.98 from the Bodycare store in the town.

She had been immediately recognised by security staff, was stopped outside the shop and the haul was recovered. When she was questioned, she owned up and told police: "I needed the money for heroin because I have been in detox and I have stupidly started again."

But, her solicitor told the Burnley Bench it wasn't true.

Mr Neil Howard said: "Obviously, she has had previous problems with drugs. That was not the reason. She was struggling financially, but she needed a reason to say why she had done it. That was the reason she had always given previously."

Caswell hit the headlines in 2013, when she was given her second anti-social behaviour order and was banned from 27 shops in five towns, after helping herself to goods in 16 stores.

She lived in Blackburn at the time and was barred from shops and the centre in her home town, as well as not being allowed in stores in Clitheroe, Nelson, Accrington and Darwen.

Mr Howard told the latest hearing that Caswell moved from Blackburn, where she lived for a considerable period of time, to Burnley in May, to get out of the area and get away from her previous associates in the drugs culture.

He continued: "Her housing benefit didn't cover the full rent and she was struggling to pay. She got further into debt and the landlord was putting a great deal of pressure on her."

The solicitor said the defendant had battled heroin addiction for 25 years but had been to France to detox, funded with the help of her sister.

A community order, with a drugs rehabilitation programme, which she had been given by the court in January ended in July and she had been clean ever since.

He said: "That's considerable progress given the previous 25 years. "

The defendant, of Burnley Road, Briercliffe, admitted theft on July 24th. She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and must pay a £20 victim surcharge.

The justices said she appeared to have made progress over recent times, was being given a chance and it was up to her to take it.