DOZY raider Mark Smith proved he was as thick as thieves when he fell sound asleep under his victim's bed.

He had crept past Heather Stephenson while she was ironing.

He rifled gems from a jewellery box and helped himself to a cheque book, but the vodka and valium he had already downed that morning was taking its toll.

And when stunned Mrs Stephenson came upstairs, she found Smith fast asleep under her bed.

"She could see a pair of legs sticking out," said Barry Robson, prosecuting at Newcastle Crown Court.

"She was shouting and shaking the defendant but got no response.

"Police were called and found Smith still asleep under the bed. They could not get any response either when they tried to take him.

"Officers eventually managed to drag Smith - wearing a rucksack and still clutching a stolen pair of gold earrings in his hand - from under the bed.

"They found he had fallen asleep on a cheque book in the name of Stephenson," Mr Robson told the court.

Smith, 24, of Wark Avenue, North Shields, was jailed for 18 months after admitting burgling the house in Whitley Bay and a neighbouring property earlier the same morning.

He already has previous convictions for robbery, theft, and drunkenness but has nothing on his record for home raids, the court heard.

"Its very clear from the nature of his more recent offences he is someone who had a hopeless addiction to alcohol combined with other drugs," said Robert Adams, defending.

"While sober he clearly expresses remorse for what he has done."

Recorder James Goss said he gave Smith credit for his guilty pleas and the efforts he had made since his remand in May to tackle his addictions.

He told him: "It appears you are realising you are essentially wasting your life and causing harm to others by the lifestyle you have led up to now."

Married Mrs Stephenson, 57, said she feels no animosity towards the burglar, she said: "I was very shocked when I found him sleeping under the bed.

"I thought he was a drunk who probably walked through our front door and I felt a bit sorry for him.

"The police came and found my cheque book, some papers as well as jewellery on him.

"He also had a steel bar on him.

"Had he been awake, he could have used the bar on me.

"The incident did not sink in until after it was over. I couldn't sleep in my bedroom for two weeks.''