A THREE-STRIKES burglar was jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting breaking into one house and handling stolen goods from another.

Traces of blood left at the scene of a break-in at a property in Grange Villa, near Chester-le-Street, helped police to pinpoint Richard Quarmby as the culprit.

Durham Crown Court heard that Quarmby gained entry to the house, in West Street, by forcing a back door, while the occupier was out for the evening, on March 21 last year.

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On his return, at 11.30pm, the householder discovered the break-in, in which £200 in euros and other foreign currency, worth £940, was taken from a bedroom drawer after an “untidy” search.

But it was some months later, after the blood match result emerged, that Quarmby was spoken to by police.

He was approached by an officer while visiting Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said the officer became suspicious about Quarmby’s demeanour and so he was searched.

He was found to be in possession of a credit card, stolen in a burglary at a house in Chatsworth Street, Sunderland, hours earlier, on September 9.

Mr Sabiston said Quarmby told police they would not find his fingerprints at the scene of that break-in, which proved to be the case.

It resulted in 33-year-old Quarmby, of Deepdale Street, Hetton-le-Hole, admitting charges of burglary of the house in Grange Villa and handling goods stolen in the Sunderland break-in.

The court heard Quarmby’s previous burglary convictions ‘qualified’ him for a minimum three-year sentence under the 'three- strikes' legislation.

Alex Burns, mitigating, told the court that the blood at the burgled house came from a cut Quarmby suffered when smashing the door to gain entry.

“So, it might be thought there was some instant retribution.”

Mr Burns added that Quarmby’s ‘guilty’ pleas merited some discount from the three-year mandatory sentence.

Agreeing to give him a six month deduction, Judge Christopher Prince told Quarmby: “You’re older than most people who pass through this court for this type of offending.

"Perhaps you've never grown up, but it is to be hoped you are now doing so.”

Judge Prince added that he felt able to make the six-month deduction in recognition of what he read in references presented to the court.