A BURGLAR was confronted “in the act” attempting to remove property from the home of a friend of his ex-girlfriend, a court heard.

Gavin Frank Cummings, 27, who has served previous prison sentences as a “three-strike” convicted burglar, earned a further stretch of two years and eight months’ behind bars for his latest break-in.

Durham Crown Court was told that a female householder, the mother of two young children who were sleeping at the premises, at the time, was awoken by the noise of the back door opening at her home in Chester-le-Street, at 4.30am on January 28.

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Martin Towers, prosecuting, said she went downstairs and appeared to disturb Cummings, who she recognised, as he was unplugging an X-Box.

Cummings tried to give the explanation that he was looking for his ex-girlfriend, who was a close friend of the burglary victim, said Mr Towers.

She told Cummings she knew their relationship was over and he left the house, returning a short time later as she was on the phone to police.

He was arrested outside the property, in Delaval, minutes later and maintained his explanation to police.

Officers checked with his ex-girlfriend who confirmed they separated a fortnight earlier.

But at his first court appearance recently, Cummings, of Lancaster Terrace, Chester-le-Street, admitted burglary.

Lorraine Mustard, for Cummings, said he has battled unsuccessfully to give up an addiction and uses drugs as “an emotional elastoplast when things get tough.”

Jailing him, Judge Paul Watson told Cummings he has an “appalling record”, but he gave him maximum ‘discount’ on sentence due to his early ‘guilty’ plea.