A MAN has been convicted of fraud after he used a bank card owned by a family member of a friend to buy items.

A court was told how 20-year-old Matthew Howe used his friend’s uncle’s debit card to buy items from a Barrow newsagents and then a supermarket.

South Cumbria Magistrates’ Court heard he borrowed the card of Gregory Curtis from his friend Ethan Curtis and used it to buy items on May 20 this year.

He spent £74.49 at a newsagents in Salthouse Road and £20.30 at the Co-op store nearby in Roose Road, the court heard.

Howe, of Greengate Street in Barrow, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation when he appeared in the dock.

Prosecutor Pam Ward described the incidents.

She told magistrates: “Mr Howe entered the newsagents in possession of a debit card belonging to the uncle of a friend.

“He made a purchase of £50 just after 3.30pm.

“He made further purchases in the premises.

“The total came to £74.40.

“He then entered the Co-op in Roose Road and made purchases there.”

In a victim impact statement read out in court, the uncle confirmed he had not allowed his nephew to use the card, describing it as ‘breach of trust’.

The court heard the defendant had previous convictions for battery, criminal damage and theft from a dwelling.

Howe was represented in court by solicitor Michael Graham.

He told the court: “In the initial stage Mr Howe was presented with the card with the intention to use it.

“He accepts on reflection that it wasn’t quite as it first appeared and he accepts that he has been reckless in his actions at least.

“He needed funds himself and used it to purchase items on that day.

“It’s not a sophisticated situation.

“He cooperated in the police station and pleads guilty here today.”

Mr Graham said the defendant had been experiencing financial difficulties and his friend had allowed him to use the card to buy items he otherwise could not afford.

The court was told Ethan Curtis had been cautioned by police following the incident.

Magistrates gave Howe credit for his early guilty plea when considering the sentence.

Chairman of the bench Mike Halshaw told Howe: “You do have relevant previous convictions so we do feel that a low level community order is appropriate.”

The bench handed down to Howe a 12 month community order requiring him to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work.

He was also told to pay £94.79 in compensation to Mr Curtis.

On top of that Howe was also ordered to pay a £95 surcharge to fund victim services as well as £85 in costs for bringing the case to court.

“Altogether a very expensive act,” Mr Halshaw told the defendant at the end of the hearing.