MOTHER-of-four Laura Hayward only saw one way out of her crisis on the day the bailiffs came round to repossess her home.

Faced with the prospect of paying up within an hour or losing her home, she gave in to temptation and drew more than £1,700 from a friend's Abbey National account.

But justice caught up with Hayward when the friend quickly realised what had happened and alerted the police.

Hayward, 39, of Mitchell Avenue, Hartley Wintney, admitted theft at Aldershot Magistrates' Court and was placed on probation for a year. She must also pay £1,730 compensation and £118 costs.

Maureen Truss, prosecuting, said Hayward's friend Janet Parker had left her the key to her home while she was away on holiday for two weeks in Italy.

When Mrs Parker returned and took her passbook to the Abbey National she found that £1,730 had been withdrawn on August 23.

Mrs Truss said: "She was shocked. She was shocked because she had not done this herself and because she was on holiday on that date. She became suspicious of the defendant because she had the key to the property and was looking after the house."

Robin Piggott, defending, said: "Mrs Hayward was in an utterly desperate situation. Her husband is a self-employed roofer and the family had got into financial difficulties. They were facing having their home repossessed and they have four children: a five-year-old, a four-year-old and one-year-old twins.

"They got into difficulties because people had not paid her husband money and Mrs Hayward had taken the financial burden on herself. Letters had been sent and the bailiffs were coming on August 23."

Mr Piggott said a payment cheque sent to her husband that day had bounced. The bailiffs warned the locks would be changed if she did not come up with the money within an hour. He added that she was quick to co-operate with the police.

"She always intended to repay this money," he said. "She explained her utter remorse to Mrs Parker who was of course very disappointed with her actions."

Mr Piggott said Hayward's husband had been completely unaware of what she had done. Hayward had since been suffering from depression, he said.