A HUNGRY woman stole meat 'in bulk' to stock up during the coronavirus pandemic and baby milk for a friend who was 'shielding'.

Former drug addict Koura Freely admitted four thefts in Malvern, two at the One Stop in the town's Pickersleigh Road and two at the Co-op in Barnards Green Road.

The 38-year-old of Madresfield Road, Malvern stole baby milk and deodorant from One Stop on April 5 before returning five days later to steal several items 'of value unknown'. On April 22 she stole a bottle of wine worth £8 from the Co-op, returning to the same shop on May 21 to steal £61 worth of meat.

Dawn Foxall, prosecuting, said Freely had been seen concealing the deodorant and baby milk in her bag and was challenged by one of the store workers as she left without offering payment.

In the Co-op she stole a bottle of wine but was subsequently identified from CCTV footage. When she returned to steal meat she was stopped. The meat was recovered in a saleable condition.

Nick Roberts, defending, said: "She is doing the best she can to access all the help she needs in relation to her own problems." He said despite her battling substance misuse 'there was no dishonesty offences for a considerable amount of time'.

"In relation to the One Stop offence she said in interview a friend of hers had a young child and she couldn't get out - she was shielding. She decided, with the best intention but going about it the wrong way, to take baby milk and items she required," said Mr Roberts.

The meat she had taken from the Co-op was for her own consumption.

Mr Roberts added: "Her rationale was Covid-19. She stole in bulk. She had not eaten a proper meal in three weeks and was craving food."

The solicitor then enumerated the plethora of medications she was under including those prescribed to treat PTSD and nerve damage. She is taking methadone, Diazepam and anti-psychotic drugs, he told the court. Freely also has two slipped discs and suffers from curvature of the spine which requires medication.

Magistrates gave her a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered her to pay £8 in compensation for the bottle of wine. All other items were recovered.

She was also ordered to pay £135 costs and a £21 victim surcharge.

"Is it possible to take it straight out of my benefits?" Freely asked magistrates.

The amount will be added to the £226 she already owes to the court and deducted from her benefits at the same rate.