A THIEF with 59 previous convictions was twice caught trying to sell designer watches stolen during a shop raid, a court heard.

Craig Wynne, 45, toured pubs in Stockton trying to hawk items taken in the night-time burglary at the nearby Collectables store just hours earlier.

Teesside Crown Court heard £9,000 worth of DKNY and Hugo Boss watches were stolen in a break-in on October 21 last year.

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Thieves struck the Mandale Retail Park store after closing time using cutting equipment to peel back metal shuttering.

Next day, Wynne was at the nearby Sun Inn with a carrier bag full of watches offering them to customers, said prosecutor Rachel Masters.

Later, he was outside another town centre pub trying to sell some of the loot, Judge Michael Taylor heard.

Wynne, of Portrack Lane, Stockton, admitted handling stolen goods, and was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Judge Taylor told him he was taking a risk but warned: "Let me down and that's it . . . it's the only chance you're going to get."

The court heard Wynne has 59 previous convictions for dishonesty and has breached community sentences twice over the last 12 months.

His barrister, Duncan McReddie, said his client turned into a criminal when he drank too much, but wanted to go straight after drying out in jail.

Wynne had spent three months in prison on remand and got a job working in the kitchen, and hoped to set up a fast-food stall.

Mr McReddie said: "He has reached the stage in his life, with the assistance of the probation service, he can address his difficulties and be productive."

Judge Taylor told Wynne: "This is the 59th time a court has had to sentence you. You have never learned your lesson. I am told you are a hard-working man when you are sober. You tend to be sober when you are in prison.

"For some reason I find difficult to fathom, the author [of a probation report] seems to think you have come to an age where you can turn the corner.

"You are a man who is, with the problems you have got, likely to die in prison unless you mend your ways.

"I make you this promise - if you step out of line, or fail to keep a single appointment, I shall have you back in front of me."