A WOMAN beggar whose con trick of asking shoppers for money to buy a train ticket was highlighted in the Argus, has been sentenced by magistrates.

Helen Burns, 23, would approach Newport shoppers and ask them to give her her money - pretending she was stranded and needed to buy a train ticket, city magistrates heard.

Burns, who admitted an offence of begging, was a professional beggar, prosecutor Paul Moore told Newport magistrates this week.

Mr Moore, who added that her technique of approaching members of the public in tears was featured in a recent Argus article, added: "As a consequence of that police have been inundated with calls from people about the money they have given.

"It's professional begging. This lady is giving bogus reasons for wanting this money.

"She is approaching the public asking for money for a train. The main feature of this young lady's life is she is a drug addict and that is why she desperately wants money.

"Certain members of the public are more gullible than others and when they see a young lady in distress they are more likely to give money." He said numerous people had informed city council rangers about Burns approaching them and asking for money to get back to her home in Oxford.

Sian Clarke, defending, said: "There are no official complaints that have been made. She says she was trying to get money to go home as she was in a desperate situation.

"Begging is an offence but members of the public are giving her money of their own free will. There is no indication that she was using force or intimidation."

Ms Clarke said Burns was a heroin addict who came to South Wales to seek treatment at a rehabilitation clinic in Cardiff but had since started taking the drug again.

Magistrates sentenced Burns, of Heath Lane, Oxford, to a 12-month conditional discharge.

After the sentencing prosecutor Mr Moore said he had invited the police to investigate the matter further.

Chief Inspector Julian Knight said: "We are looking as to whether we can reopen these issues and treat them as a matter of deception."

He added numerous people had contacted police about the conwoman since the Argus printed the article about her begging last Tuesday. Police are also investigating after a man with an Irish accent called at homes in the city on Sunday night, also pretending he needed money for a train ticket.