A SKINT shop cleaner stole pre-paid video game cards to fund the cost of travelling to work.
Wayne Edward Hannon was left struggling to balance his budget after a change in the way he was paid from his minimum-wage cleaning job.
He stole more than £365 of Xbox LIVE pre-paid cards from the Argos branch in Sunderland.
Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that the 44-year-old took eight Xbox LIVE memberships and five 360 LIVE points from the store, in High Street West, between February 2 and 15 this year.
He pleaded guilty to one offence of theft.
The court heard that the dad-of-four was made subject to a community order in March 2011 for a similar offence.
Hannon stole cigarettes from an employer to pay off a loan shark, after borrowing money to buy Christmas presents, until the debt was finally settled by his father.
The court heard the theft had a “dramatic” impact on Hannon’s family, leading to him losing his job with a cleaning company and splitting from his long-term partner.
Probation officer Ian Richardson prepared a pre-sentence report on Hannon.
He said: “He is very remorseful for committing this offence.
“He insists on telling me that he took the property, which was some sort of card that put the credit on, he took it in order to get to work.
“There had been a change in the payment system to a two-week delay, so he took the money in order to get to work.”
Magistrates ordered Hannon, of Ripon Street, Gateshead, to pay back the value of the goods and complete a 12-month community order, with 180 hours’ unpaid work.