A CAREER criminal raided the home of an elderly woman, who had previously died, on the day of his release from jail, a court heard.

Paul Jefferson, who has 43 convictions for 109 offences, was spotted by a neighbour pushing a wheelie bin away from the property in Loftus, east Cleveland.

The wheelie bin contained a sewing machine which had been stolen from the house.

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The house itself was empty due to the death of the occupant and was in the process of being sold by her daughter, said prosecutor Christopher Attwooll.

It was later discovered that a china box, silver clock and ornaments had been removed. The bedroom drawers had also been emptied and a cushion left behind which had been stuffed with stolen items from the property.

Jefferson, 38, of Egglestone Court, Skelton, who pleaded guilty to burglary on October 31 last year, was arrested by police after his fingerprints were matched to prints found in the house. His blood was also found on a light switch.

He only admitted stealing bottles of alcohol, but nonetheless pleaded guilty to the burglary. He also claimed others had stolen from the house, knowing it was empty.

The court was told there was little mitigation to be had in his case since there was no time from his release in prison to the offence to do anything positive.

Judge Peter Armstrong said Jefferson had a long and extensive criminal record and only prison could be justified. He jailed him for 12 months.