A convicted street robber said he will steal again if he doesn’t start receiving benefits.

Terrence Heightley, 38, from Brighton, was released from Lewes Prison on April 22 after serving half of a four-year sentence for a street robbery.

He is in the process of applying for Employment and Support Allowance – a benefit that offers financial support to people who are disabled or too ill to work – due to his heroin addiction.

But he claims the application process is taking too long and he has no money to eat or live.

As a result, he said he has identified potential houses to burgle in Brighton as a “last resort to survive”.

Mr Heightley, who is staying at the YMCA in North Road and is prescribed methadone, said: “The application papers never arrived so I had to ask for another set. Then an appointment was made for me to meet staff at the social but it turned out it was never actually booked, and now I’m waiting for more papers.

“I’ve just been messed around and it’s really frustrating. I have nothing to live on and I’m trying hard not to commit any crimes as I don’t want to go back to jail.

“But they’ve shoved me in the YMCA with drug addicts and criminals and it’s making everything so difficult.

“I’m getting so desperate I’ve even walked up and down various streets to pinpoint what houses I can burgle if I need to.

“I don’t want to do it. I want to get my life back on track. But I won’t have a choice. All I’ve eaten since I’ve been out is a bacon sandwich and loaf of white bread.”

The father of three was convicted of street robbery after he and another man asked a passerby for change outside the Easy Hours off licence in Grand Parade in 2011.

The victim had £30 stolen from his wallet.

Mr Heightley added: “I regret what happened and don’t feel proud of it, but I’ve gone into prison and been rehabilitated. I just want to get on with my life.”

A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions said it doesn’t set time limits to approve applications as each one is individual.

He added: “It is only right that we carry out a thorough face-to-face assessment and consider all the medical evidence provided by the claimant before we reach a decision as to whether they are eligible for Employment and Support Allowance or if they should get help to find work.”