A BURGLAR posed as a sympathiser when his victim discovered the break-in at his home, a court heard.

Arnold William Rickerby was seen in a “mortal drunk” state near the burgled property, in Albert Street, Grange Villa, shortly after the householder returned home, late on November 13.

Durham Crown Court heard the resident found everything “upside down”, with jewellery and household items missing, and went out to ask Rickerby if he had seen anything.

Martin Towers, prosecuting, said Rickerby claimed to have seen nothing, and then followed the victim back into the house, saying “how disgusting” it was.

The next day a neighbour saw property being moved further up the street, and Rickerby, along with another man, were seen in possession of some of the stolen items.

He was detained, and soon arrested. He denied being the burglar, but admitting handling stolen goods.

At court, however, Rickerby, 43, of Railway Street, Annfield Plain, who has 153 previous convictions, admitted the burglary.

The court heard it made him eligible for the mandatory minimum sentence of three years, as a “third strike” dwelling burglar.

He also admitted a shop break-in, theft of a mobility scooter, and asked for another house burglary, also in Albert Street, to be considered.

Lewis Kerr, mitigating, said heavy drinking was behind his client’s “flurry of offending”, but he has made strides while in custody, which he hopes to maintain on his eventual release.

Jailing him for three years and two months, Recorder Gavin Doig told him he had brought, “misery” to the victim, and shown “appalling hypocrisy” in faking his apparent disgust at his plight.