A BURGLAR is back behind bars after targeting a new business in Darlington town centre to steal cash and tobacco.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that Jamie Lee Stewart smashed his way into Express Mini Market on Northgate shortly before 11pm on December 29.

The 33-year-old carried out an untidy search of the premises before making off with £150 cash and £3,000 of cigarettes and tobacco.

John Garside, prosecuting, said: “When the defendant was arrested he was also found with a small quantity of cannabis in his possession.

“He was interviewed and answered no comment throughout.

“He also offered no comment as to why his blood was found behind the counter inside the shop.

“However, he did make full admissions to the cannabis saying that it was for his own personal use.”

In a statement read out during the hearing the owner of the shop said the burglary had taken place only weeks after the shop had opened.

The statement said: “I had to borrow money off family and friends to open the shop and the burglary has cost me a lot of money.

“The stock that was taken still has not been replaced because I can not afford to replace it.

“Also the front door is still not fixed because I can’t afford to fix it.

“I spent New Year’s Eve sleeping in a van outside of the shop and I have had to buy metal shutters now to secure it.”

Stewart, of Eldon Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal and possession of a Class B drug.

However he did shout out during the hearing that he did not take £3,000 worth of tobacco.

John Turner, mitigating, said: “It’s a huge shame that he appears in front of you here today, he was adamant that he was not going back.

“He has been working and as one job has ended he has found another.

“He did in fact have a job lined up to start this week, and his partner has had to contact them to tell them that he won’t be able to work for them.

“They have two children together, he has a stable home, a family and a good work ethic.

“He has made an extremely bad criminal choice.”

Chair of the bench, Colin Beadle, said: “We do believe this crosses the custody threshold.

“In large because of the impact on the shop keeper and the impact was quite significant.

“You committed this offence whilst on licence and you have a significant record.”

Stewart was remanded into custody and will appear at Teesside Crown Court where he will be sentenced by a judge.