A THIRD-STRIKE burglar left empty-handed but having badly damaged the scene of his latest break-in, a court heard.

Peter John Mouter, 33, was spotted behaving suspiciously at the terraced house in Easington Colliery, in mid-afternoon on July 28 last year.

Durham Crown Court heard the householder returned home at 5pm to discover a wooden ‘outhouse’ structure attached to the kitchen had been partly dismantled.

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Although it appeared the kitchen had been entered, the intruder did not seem to have gone any further into the property, in Boston Street.

Mouter, who had been spotted leaving the vicinity with another man, was seen returning to his own home two streets away, in Station Road.

He denied involvement when interviewed, claiming he had been walking his dog before returning home to do some decorating, but he was picked out by the witness as the man spotted at the house.

Despite his continued denials, even after two of his finger prints were recovered from door panels in the house, Mouter changed his plea to ‘guilty’ to burglary on the day of his trial, last month.

The court heard he has previous burglary convictions, dating from 2002 and 2009.

His barrister, Chris Morrison, told yesterday's (Monday, April 14) sentencing hearing that those offences were “well spread out” and Mouter’s offending has, “markedly slowed down” in recent years.

Mr Morrison added that it was “an impulsive act” and, and nothing was taken.

“It’s now the best part of a year since the incident and he’s been trouble free since then.”

Jailling him for the minimum three years for third-strike burglars, Recorder Taryn Turner told Mouter that such has been the effect on the tenant that she has now moved from the area, as a result of the burglary.