A MAN struggling to re-establish himself after being released from prison was twice challenged while trying to steal from shops.

Blackburn magistrates heard Michael Bartley had managed to obtain an address but had no benefits when he tried to steal from a convenience store and Next on Townsmoor Retail Park in the town centre.

And the magistrates said they understood the problems faced by people on their release from prison and were going to give him a chance.

Bartley, 30, of Union House hostel, St Peter Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to stealing two bottles of Martini from Shop 2 Go on Old Bank Lane and perfume and aftershave from Next. He was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said his client had struggled in the two weeks since his release but had managed to find accommodation and establish a benefits claim.

“He is on prison licence and understands he may well go back to prison today,” said Mr Taylor.

“The down side to that is that the cycle starts again. Perhaps he could be given another opportunity."

Imposing a conditional discharge, the chairman of the magistrates said they understood why the offences had been committed.

“When people come out of prison it can take time for them to establish themselves,” she said.