A professional shoplifter has been jailed for biting a security guard's hand during a thieving expedition to York.

York magistrates heard that Georgeta-Luisa Stefan travels the country to steal from shops.

Kathryn Reeve, prosecuting, said she turned violent when the guard, who works at Waitrose, thought she was part of a shoplifting gang when he saw her with a man loading up two bags with alcohol worth £300. He grabbed her as the duo left the store.

Even though she turned violent and bit him on the hand, she was detained until police arrived.

She had previously stolen £300 of clothes from Zara's in a foil-lined bag and had been caught shoplifting in south Derbyshire, Manchester and East London.

Stefan, of Station St East, Coventry, appeared before the court via a video link to Holloway prison where she was on remand to a London court and pleaded guilty to assault and the Zara theft on October 7. She was jailed for 120 days.

Magistrates told her: "This was clearly a professional theft" and the security guard she had bit had only been doing his job when he detained her.

Speaking through a Roumanian translator, Stefan claimed to have nothing to do about the man with whom she was seen in Waitrose on May 10.

About the security guard, she said; "I am very sorry that I bit him, but I was scared."

She had come to England looking for work because she had financial problems bringing her two children alone.

Of the theft, she said: "I realise it is very wrong. Please understand it is very difficult for my two children. They are suffering. " She claimed she would look for a proper job on her release from prison.

Miss Reeve said the security guard was not injured. The alcohol was not recovered.