A mother of five did not pay for her electricity for almost three years after her meter was tampered with.
Victoria Kate Towning, 33, of Cambridge Street, Grantham, admitted using electricity worth £2,417.58 without permission between September 1, 2012 and July 31, 2015.
Prosecuting, Marie Stace said British Gas had received information that Miss Towning has bypassed the meter at her previous address in Belmont Grove. When officials checked the meter they found that the grass around it was overgrown and it had been tampered with.
Miss Stace said Towning had failed to put money in the pre-paid meter and electricity had been used without payment.
The court heard that Towning’s children had been taken away from her and she had no spare cash. Somebody offered to help her and had tampered with the meter while she turned the mains off. She had had a lot of personal issues and was desperate to save money.
Towning, who was not represented, told the court: “I was under a lot of stress at the time.”
In a probation report the court heard that Towning had previous convictions but nothing which related to this offence. She had come from a difficult background and was off work with depression. Four of her five children lived with their father.
Magistrates gave Towning a six month community order which includes a 10-day rehabilitation requirement. She was also ordered to pay a criminal court charge of £180, a victim surcharge of £60 and costs of £40.
Magistrates decided not to award any compensation and said it was a matter for British Gas to ensure any money was paid back.