A LONE female householder feared for her life on waking to hear a burglar wandering round her home, a court heard.
Durham Crown Court heard that he left the room and the woman waited five minutes, thinking he had fled the property, but on entering the kitchen she caught sight of him and bobbed down to hide, to hopefully avoid a confrontation.
Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said she was unsure if she had been spotted by the intruder, who had a hood pulled up part covering his face.
She lay on the floor for several more minutes until she was sure he had gone, before ringing police.
Mr Soppitt said her ordeal lasted more than an hour, as she first woke on hearing noises of creaking floorboards at 5am, on June 25, and it was not until 6.04am that she believed he left.
She discovered he had taken property worth about £900, including two lap-top computers and a jewellery box containing a wedding band plus a pendant bearing pictures of her grandchildren.
Bainbridge then went to the nearby home of his sister and mother, to whom he tried to sell the stolen items.
Mr Soppitt said his mother was so appalled that she rang the police to report it and officers arrived to recover the haul.
Bainbridge was arrested and made no comment in interview.
But the 38-year-old, of no fixed abode, admitted the burglary at his first appearance before magistrates the following day.
Due to his long record, featuring 43 convictions for 94 offences, the bench committed the case to the crown court for sentence.
Stephen Andrews, mitigating, told Thursday's sentencing hearing that Bainbridge accepts he has, “an unenviable record, and one of which he is not proud”, but containing only one previous domestic burglary.
Mr Andrews, who presented a letter from the defendant to Judge Deborah Sherwin, said: “He says it was very much out of character for him to commit an offence like, this, but he accepts it was a ‘horrible’ thing to do.”
He said Bainbridge was homeless at the time, awaiting accommodation at a drug rehabilitation centre, and claimed he initially went to the house looking for somewhere to sleep.
“He was clearly under the influence at the time and it was not pre-planned, but he accepts he needs to address his drug offending.”
Jailing him for two years and eight-and-a-half months, Judge Sherwin told him: “The lady living at that house must have been terrified and will remain so for some time, living alone as she does.
“You might not have seen her, but she certainly saw you and understandably froze in fear.”