A BUNGLING burglar who led police from the scene of a break-in straight to his front door - thanks to the trail of footprints he left in the snow - has been spared jail.

Father-of-one, Lewis Ward, snuck into a house in Vine Street, Darlington, on the evening of January 18 and stole an iPad and charger while the woman who lived there was upstairs.

The 28-year-old was later arrested after police spent 90 minutes following the trail of footprints Ward had left in the freshly laid snow from his victim’s home, to his front door, nearly a mile away in Raby Street.

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Officers raided his house and found his wet trainers, which matched the footprints, as well as recovering the stolen iPad he had hidden behind the wardrobe, and charger hidden under the washing machine.

Darlington magistrates heard Ward, who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress disorder and left the Army in 2007, had been drinking following a row with his girlfriend and did not remember how or why he went to Vine Street and stole the iPad.

Jonathan Harley, mitigating, said: “This is about the least planned burglary you are ever likely to see.”

Chairman of the bench Rajeev Devgan said the offence of burglary was serious, with the aggravating feature of the homeowner being at home, alone.

Ward was handed a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work. He was also given a night-time, weekend curfew and ordered to pay £85 costs with a £80 victim surcharge.

Mr Devgan said: “This is an opportunity for you to put things right. It is totally in your hands.”