A 35-YEAR-old drug addict who passed fake £20 notes in Bromsgrove and Droitwich shops has escaped a jail sentence to give her a chance to keep her children.

Rachel Warman bought petrol and tobacco at a Droitwich garage and other goods from a fast food shop in Bromsgrove with the counterfeit currency, Worcester Crown Court heard.

Alex Warren, prosecuting, said she went into the Esso garage in Worcester Road, Droitwich, on the evening of August 9 last year and bought £10 of petrol. After she left, the cash machine rejected the £20 note she had paid with. She returned ten minutes later and bought tobacco with another £20 note but the cashier decided not to challenge her and instead the police were given the CCTV.

A few days later on August 17, Warman went into KFC in Charford Road, Bromsgrove, at about 10pm with two other women, Mr Warren said. They bought a number of low cost items with £20 notes and took the change. After they left, there were a total of sixteen fake £20 notes in the till.

Warman, of Lyttleton Avenue, Bromsgrove, was arrested and told police she had cash problems after her benefits were stopped. She would give some of the change to the people who provided the notes and keep the rest but she declined to name any of the others involved. She pleaded guilty to three charges of passing forged money.

Judge Michael Cullum told Warman courts took counterfeiting seriously because it undermined the economy and the sentence would usually be 15 months in prison.

By the time she came out, he said, the bond with her two-month old child would be broken and her teenage son would have had to manage without her.

"That would be your fault but it's their loss I am concerned about," he told her. "You gave in to peer pressure and you knew what you were doing was entirely wrong and unlawful."

He said he would give her a "last chance" to build on the progress she had made with the help of various agencies to beat her addiction and to keep her children.

Warman was given a 12-month community order concurrent on each count with a drug treatment requirement and supervision.