A BURGLAR who left his DNA-smeared sock at the scene is behind bars.

Karl Hogg, 31, broke into the Dubmire Royal British Legion Social Club in Fencehouses on the morning of August 15.

After removing tiles from the roof, the burglar smashed through the ceiling before stealing alcohol and money from charity coffers, as well as causing significant damage to the building.

But Hogg, who had left behind empty bottles of spirits at the premises, also dropped a sock at the scene which later came back as a forensic match.

Hogg, of Baker Street, Houghton-le-Spring, admitted the burglary last month at Newcastle Crown Court.

On Friday, he was back in the dock as a judge sentenced him to 20 months imprisonment.

Detective Constable Alex Hadwin, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a despicable crime as Hogg targeted a charity that supports Armed Forces members, veterans and their families.

“Charities such as the Royal British Legion rely on the support of volunteers and the community, who work all year-round and carry out various fundraising activities.

“But Hogg showed he cannot be trusted to live in a lawful society as he carried out his callous crime, emptying fundraising buckets and stealing alcohol for his own purely selfish gain.

“His deception was laid bare after a dirty sock which he had used as part of the burglary was inadvertently left at the scene smeared with his DNA, along with alcohol bottles on the roof which he had consumed.

“We are committed to taking burglars off our streets, and Hogg is another prolific offender who will now spend a considerable amount of time in jail.”

Police were called to the social club shortly after 4am on August 15 after the premises’ steward was alerted that the alarm was going off.

When officers attended, they found damage to the roof of the premises – along with a number of discarded items including empty alcohol bottles, a small amount of cash and a sock.

Money had been stolen from a games machine and charity collection boxes in aid of the Legion’s Poppy Appeal and the Integrated Critical Care Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

CCTV footage showed Hogg skulking inside the club on the morning in question, while the sock later came back as a DNA match to the main suspect following forensic analysis. He was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary.

In a victim impact statement, the social club’s stewardess said the damage to the premises and value of items stolen amounted to more than £6,000.

“The burglary and in particular the theft of charity amounts is sickening,” she said.

“The crime has upset our members and caused our staff an inconvenience. This is a family club and I’m sick that we have been targeted in such a way.”