A RETIRED woman was horrified to discover a half-dressed burglar, under the influence of drink or drugs, going through possessions in her son’s bedroom, a court was told.

The shaken householder, who woke from a snooze in front of the television, went upstairs to check the source of noise coming from the bedroom usually occupied by her son, who was away in the Lake District, shortly before 8pm on January 10.

Durham Crown Court heard that she walked into the bedroom to be greeted by a stranger, with his back to her, in his underwear, but wearing a jacket.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said although she challenged the intruder, he carried on placing items belonging to her son onto the bed and into his pockets.

She asked him to leave, but she could see he was not about to take any notice, so she ran out herself and alerted the man living next door.

Mr Abrahams said the resourceful neighbour locked her house door and removed the key, effectively trapping the intruder inside until police reached the scene, in Seaton Lane, Seaham.

The unwanted visitor, Darren Arthur Slee, was arrested and told police he, “ended up in the wrong house”.

All the items he was planning to take, including two watches, money, bank cards and a camera, were recovered, but, when interviewed, he made no comment.

Appearing at a plea hearing, however, via video link from Durham Prison, 41-year-old Slee, of Wraith Terrace, Ryhope, Sunderland, admitted a single count of burglary.

The court was told his record of 54 convictions for 80 offences features several break-ins dating back to 1997, but he narrowly fell short of the “three-strike” provisions for domestic burglars, which were only introduced in 1999.

An impact statement read to the court, stated that the victim, who has lived at that address for 25 years, felt “shaken and saddened” after the offence.

Helen Towers, mitigating, said, through her, the defendant wanted to make, “an unreserved apology”.

“He accepts the traumatic effect it would have on the complainant.”

Miss Towers said at the time, despite having found work, Slee was still prone to drug misuse, which was behind much of his offending.

She said that on his release from his previous sentence he fell in with people who, “didn’t take a dim view of drugs”, leading him to relapse into use of illicit substances.

“But, now in his 40s, he has, perhaps, for the first time, used his time on remand in prison well, engaging with the drug and alcohol reduction team, meeting them every two days for advice.

“He’s committed now to engaging with the rehabilitation service on offer.”

Jailing him for 18-months, Judge James Adkin warned Slee that he is now classed as a three-strike burglar and the starting point for any future sentence for such crime would be much higher.