A LOVING mum spent more than £3,000 at pawn shops buying back her own possessions which her son had stolen to feed his drug and gambling addictions.

Bolton Crown Court heard how the 74-year-old mother repeatedly forgave Andrew Bennett, who she had adopted when he was a baby.

Bennett, aged 46, even picked the lock on her bedroom door while she was away on holiday and stole cash and jewellery, which he sold.

In a victim statement read out in court the mother’s partner said: “She has done her best to love and support Andrew. She always tried to see the best in him and believed he would change.”

Bennett, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, two counts of fraud and robbing a card shop owner of £20.

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, said that Bennett, a father-of-two, had lived at his mother’s Breightmet home for seven years. The court heard that in April he lost his job as a car salesman after his employers discovered that he had not disclosed previous criminal convictions.

He returned to drug taking and online gambling, and stole items of jewellery from his mother over the last 12 months. “She subsidised him and tolerated items being stolen from her,” said Mr Wilcock.

At the end of August Bennett’s mother went on holiday, leaving her son in the house.

“She kept the bedroom door locked. She believed that it was safe,” said Mr Wilcock. “But somehow he managed to pick the lock.”

When she returned home she found jewellery, a laptop and £1,300 from a safe, some of which belonged to a neighbour, was missing. The mother discovered some of the stolen property at Cash Converters in Bolton.

“She paid £3,000 to get the various items back,” said Mr Wilcock.

The mother allowed her son to stay in the house again while she was away at the end of October, giving him a last warning.

But while on her break she received a message from Sainsbury’s Bank asking her if she wanted to extend her credit card limit.

She discovered Bennett had run up £2,000 on her card, £3,000 on another card which he spent on gambling and cashed a £500 cheque.

“His behaviour has cost her around £10,000 since May 2018,” said Mr Wilcock.

Bennett was arrested and it was also revealed that he had robbed a card shop on Bury Road on November 16. The owner was forced to hand over £20 after Bennett asked him if he was having a good day, then added: “Well, it’s about to get a lot worse because this is a robbery.”

Stuart Duke, defending, stressed that Bennett is now reconciled with his mother, but accepts the need for a restraining order banning him from going within 100 yards of her home.

“He is deeply ashamed of his offending. He is determined to make amends and become a decent citizen,” said Mr Duke.

Judge Graeme Smith sentenced Bennett to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years with the condition that he lives at an Emerging Futures project home for six months, where he will get help to beat his addictions.

He will also be subject to an 8pm to 7am curfew for four months and must participate in 25 days of rehabilitation activities.

Judge Smith told Bennett that his mother had “stoically gone to Cash Converters to buy back what you had stolen.” He added: “She has shown a remarkable level of patience with you.”