A PROLIFIC burglar struck at a locked pub overnight, but after helping himself to a drink, fell asleep in the pool room, a court heard.

On waking, Kevin Aldworth forced the payment machine on the pool table, but was then disturbed by the arrival of the cleaner and so fled into the upstairs accommodation area of the Three Tuns, in Shildon.

Durham Crown Court was told as the cleaner knew the landlady lived above the pub she rang her, saying: “There’s a man and he’s run upstairs. He’s broken in.”

Chris Wood, prosecuting, said as the landlady was quickly pulling on her shoes, she saw the burglar wearing a ski-mask and camouflage jacket, carrying a rucksack.

She fled downstairs and went to the pub garden, where the cleaner was ringing the police, but went back inside to see the intruder fleeing from a back bedroom window, making his getaway via a neighbouring garden.

He had taken £10 from the living room fireplace as well as the pool table cash.

An opened cola can, from which he had drunk after breaking into the Association Street premises, gave a dna match with Aldworth.

It emerged that the day before the September 29 break-in, he was abusive to staff at the Original Factory Shop, also in Shildon, where he was suspected of shoplifting.

Dr Wood said several weeks later Aldworth was able to steal £249 worth of clothing from the same shop and items valued at £235 from W Boyes, in Bishop Auckland, the following day.

After his arrest, Aldworth admitted two counts of theft and one of threatening words and behaviour.

Those cases were sent for sentence to the crown court, where the 36-year-old three-strike burglar, of Bishop Street, Bishop Auckland, also admitted the break-ins at both the pub and the upstairs living accommodation.

It put the defendant in breach of a suspended 16-week prison sentence imposed in August, for theft and handling stolen goods.

Liam O’Brien, mitigating, conceded the defendant has, “a bad record” and was aware, as a three-strike burglar, the sentence starting point would be three years.

Judge James Adkin said his actions, “shuffling about” the pub at night left the landlady fearful of future confrontations with intruders.

He imposed an 876-day prison sentence, just under two years and five months, giving Aldworth 20-per cent deduction on the three year jail term, due to his guilty pleas.