A 'DESPERATE' shoplifter stole a pair of Nike trainers from a sports shop in a bid to pay for life-saving treatment for her beloved Shih Tzu dog.

Sally Corrina McDonnell had turned her back on a life of crime in 2016 after tackling a drink and drugs problem but last month she returned to her shoplifting past because she was “desperate”, a court heard.

Prosecutor Pam Smith described how McDonnell was arrested shortly after she stole pair of blue Nike trainers worth £105 from DW in Hindpool Road in Barrow on August 23, South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court heard.

“Sergeant McNulty was on duty and saw the defendant run in front of traffic from the direction of DW,” she said.

“He followed her and located her in the back alley of Sidney Street.”

After she was stopped by the officer, McDonnell, 43, said: “I’m not going to lie, I’ve stolen them.”

The court heard during a police interview McDonnell fully admitted stealing the trainers.

She explained she had lined a Bag for Life with tin foil, to avoid detection by anti-theft scanners at the store, and gone inside the sports retailer to steal the trainers.

“She told police she had gone in the store with her partner, but he didn’t know what she was going to do,” the prosecutor said.

“She told police her intention was to sell the trainers for £40 or £50 to pay off an outstanding vet’s bill.”

The court heard McDonnell, of Sidney Street, had 14 previous convictions for theft but her last court appearance was back in November 2016 and she had stayed out of trouble since then.

Representing herself, McDonnell told magistrates she had only stolen the trainers because she was “desperate”.

“Earlier that day my Shih Tzu, who’s eight, had been at Grove Vets in Rawlinson Street,” she told the court.

“By 12 noon the vet phoned me asking me to go back down and I needed £47 for a blood test.

"I didn’t have the money and I didn’t know what to do.

“I wasn’t thinking straight, I was desperate.”

Addressing her previous convictions, McDonnell said she had since turned over a new leaf.

“I did have a real problem with shoplifting back then because of my drinking problem and drug use,” she told the court.

“I’ve never used a foil lined bag in my life. I really regret what I did and I’m sorry.”

McDonnell told the court her dog had died the day after she was arrested. She pleaded guilty to theft when she appeared in court yesterday.

McDonnell, who claims Jobseekers’ Allowance, was ordered to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work which the Probation Service said would be undertaken at the Women’s Centre in Barrow.

She was also told to pay £85 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.