A JUDGE told a burglar he got what he deserved when he was beaten up by a householder who found him creeping around his living room.

Anthony Hall was left battered and bruised after he was disturbed trying to steal a television from the home of Steve Waterfield.

Last night, the former rugby player said: "An Englishman's home is his castle and he made a big mistake when he decided to come into mine."

Steve, 48, told how he thought to himself "right son, you're getting a whacking" as the pair grappled in his two-bed flat in Redcar.

He said: "There was no chance he was going to get the better of me. He has learnt a hard lesson - perhaps he'll think twice in future."

Photographs of Hall's injuries were shown to a judge at Teesside Crown Court, but he said unsympathetically: "That's the risk you take."

Judge Howard Crowson told the his lawyer Rachel Dyson that the fact he came off second best was no mitigation for the late-night raid.

Hall, 22, was jailed for three years and four months, and was told: "The police are never able to encourage the public to act in this way.

"But I'm afraid it is inevitable if someone like Mr Waterfield finds someone like you in his home, that something like this might happen.

"That's the risk you take entering people's homes - you might find someone who is not prepared to simply lie down and let it happen.

"Having challenged you, he was effectively attacked by you. As it happens, it seems to have managed to inflict more injury on you, than you did him.

"It was not for the want of trying, though, because you were kicking and punching him. You were wearing roofers' gloves.

"Mr Waterfield might have inflicted more injuries than he received, but I think most people would just say 'thank goodness he was not more seriously hurt'."

Strapping Steve - 6ft and 13-and-a-half stone - played as a flanker for Redcar until an ankle injury forced his retirement from the game eight years ago.

He said: "I'm glad that the judge took the point of view that he got what he deserved, I think it's any home owner's right to defend themselves and their property in the best way they can.

"It was a sensible view that he took and I'm glad he didn't see it as any kind of reason to give him a lower sentence. I think the sentence he got was sensible and a good deterrent, the lad has learnt a hard lesson twice over now - perhaps he'll think twice in future."

Steve said: "That night I had stayed up to watch the Superbowl on Channel Four but in the end I took myself off to bed and decided to watch it on the TV in my room.

"It was about half past midnight when I had a feeling something was wrong. I didn't hear anything I just sensed there was someone in the flat with me. I went through to the living room and saw him with both hands on my TV.

"I shouted: "What the f*** are you doing?" and he looked panic-stricken. He started babbling that he was in the wrong flat and then suddenly lashed out at me and head for the door.

"I trapped him in the doorway and we started to scuffle. He was quite a strong lad but there was no chance he was going to get the better of me. I had him pinned to the floor by his throat and I was looking round for my phone to call the police.

"As I was looking around he took the chance to kick me in the face and that's the point that he annoyed me. I thought 'right son you're getting a whacking'.

"The only way it was going to end was by one of us getting the better of the other and he was very much on the receiving end. He was quite bruised and cut up because I hit him a few times.

"He managed to struggle free and was heading for the door. I hit him one last time with enough force to knock him out of my hallway, through the open door and onto the path.

"He seemed pretty dazed after that and the last time I saw him he was weaving off down the street. I finally found my phone and called the police who were round to my flat pretty quickly.

"They saw that I was covered in blood and called an ambulance but it was clear pretty quickly that it was all his, it was all over the walls and even outside the house.

"They checked me over and found I was fine. I had a little scuff by my eye but nothing serious. I've had my nose broken and plenty injuries on the rugby field that were a lot worse than anything he could have inflicted.

"I was a bit stiff the following day, it had been a while since I'd done anything physical like that but I didn't feel intimidated, like anyone else I just did what was necessary to protect my home and he shouldn't have been inside it."

Hall was left with two gashes to his head, a blackened and bruised left eye, a swollen cheekbone and marks to his chin and neck.

The court heard that Hall, of Tyne Field Place, Newcastle, has a "significant" record going back almost ten years.

Miss Dyson said he had stayed out of trouble for the last year, but returned to his old ways after losing his job.

She said he was short of money, could not pay his mother board and lodgings, they had fallen out and he was effectively homeless.

"He accepts the impact this would have had on the victim," added Miss Dyson. "He has shown some remorse and empathy for what he went through."

Steve said: "I think he thought he'd come across a grey haired old man but unfortunately for him this grey haired old man has played rugby all his life and wasn't about to let him get away with it."