A MAN who admitted stealing £6,500 has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Jack Clark (22), of Scales Crescent, Prudhoe, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday where he received an 11-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.

He initially denied the charge, but later changed his plea to guilty at a hearing in November.

A court heard how he stole the money from a house in Bedlington in January, while the owner was on holiday.

Prosecutor Harry Hadfield, said Clark was looking after the house, where the victim kept £5,000 in cash in a cupboard.

A further £1,5000 was delivered to the house by a friend of the owner and added to the amount.

Clark, who had befriended the victim after playing pool together in the Ashington area, was also looking after the victim’s nine-year-old son at the house.

Mr Hadfield said Clark was trusted by the victim to look after his house, therefore he knew where he kept valuable items.

However, after returning from holiday a week later, the victim found Clark was no longer in the house and the money had disappeared.

The court heard Clark was seen in a local shop with "large amounts of money" and was also described as "splattering the cash" in a local bar.

However, he claimed he placed the £6,500 cash in a jacket before losing it. He was arrested in April on suspicion of theft.

Thomas Laffy, defending, said Clark was somebody “who would suffer significantly in custody and somebody who feels strongly towards this man”.

Sentencing, Judge Edward Bindloss, said: “The temptation was too great for you.

"You took the lot and blew it in 72 hours.

“You were in Ashington buying drinks for everyone in the area.

“It’s clear by your body language that you are ashamed to be here in these circumstances.

“You have been shunned by your girlfriend and other friends because of the act that you did.”

Judge Bindloss concluded Clark was not a risk to the public, and had a realistic possibility of completing a rehabilitation programme.

“You deserve to go straight to prison, but having carefully considered this I am going to draw back on sending you to custody immediately,” he said.

The court did not order Clark to repay the amount due to his current financial situation, however, Judge Bindloss said: “You have a moral duty to give all the money back to the victim.”