TWO friends were banned from having any contact for a year after they admitted two shoplifting sprees in Cwmbran and Abergavenny.

Claire Louise McCarthy, 31 and Stephanie Louise Skinner, 22, who stole items including confectionary, self-tanning lotion, cleaning products, CDs and hair ties after targeting seven different shops, were told they could be jailed if they are spotted together.

At Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Rob Simkins said McCarthy, of Clos Bury Capel and Skinner of St David’s Road, both Abergavenny, "went on two shoplifting sprees" in the town centres.

The first was on the afternoon of August 14 when they travelled to Cwmbran and entered shops together, but acted separately.

Skinner took cosmetics and hair ties from the Pound Shop, worth £16, hair ties from Superdrug worth £2.72p, two books and a CD worth £19 from The Works and cosmetics worth £20.16 from Boots.

McCarthy took hair products worth £21 from Superdrug and five bottles of self-tanning lotion worth £110 from Boots, where they were both spotted and detained outside.

They were arrested, with Mr Simkins saying Skinner got upset, crying and saying "It’s all my fault, it’s because of what I’ve been born into".

In police interview, McCarthy vowed "after today, I’ll never steal again"- but, less than a month later, the pair set out on their second shoplifting spree.

On September 10, they entered Abergavenny and jointly took cleaning products from Tesco, stationery from the Card Factory and confectionary from B&M Bargains.

Mr Simkins said they were arrested in a car park and McCarthy said "Steph is always putting stuff in my bag, I don’t know what to do".

As this statement was read out, the two defendants turned to each other and started laughing.

McCarthy admitted five counts of theft and Skinner seven, with their defence solicitor Paul Lewis saying they are both determined to stay on a new path.

Skinner was given a 12-month community order, with 60 hours unpaid work and McCarthy a 12-month supervision order with a drug rehabilitation requirement.

They were also banned from being in each other’s company for 12 months by chairman of the bench Gary Shide, who handed them prohibition notices.

Court clerk Steve Hancock warned them: "If it is reported you are in each other's company, you could be sent to prison."