A BURGLAR left his travel card, in his name, and a set of house keys among other items found at the scene of the day-time break-in at a student accommodation block.

Three-strikes burglar Mark Anthony Blackburn took three watches and jackets, a hooded top and a backpack from the bedroom of an under-graduate at Durham University’s College of St Hild and St Bede, between 3pm and 7pm on Wednesday January 22 this year.

Durham Crown Court heard that checks on city centre CCTV showed Blackburn in the doorway of a Gregg’s bakery store wearing the backpack, at about 7.30pm, while, shortly after 8pm he was seen at the city bus station, from where he was arrested and all the stolen items were recovered.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said Blackburn denied committing the burglary when he was interviewed, claiming his own personal items, found in the student bedroom, had been stolen from him earlier that day, even naming the man he claimed to have been responsible.

He claimed he left Durham at about 3pm that day, but the CCTV evidence disproved his account.

Appearing at a plea hearing at the court, via video link from Durham Prison, the 47-year-old defendant, of Front Street, Pity Me, admitted a single count of burglary.

The court was told among 66 convictions for 119 offences, he has six dwelling burglaries on his record and, following his arrest last month, was recalled on licence to serve the last year of a previous sentence, imposed at the court in September 2018.

Mark Styles, mitigating, said Blackburn was receiving support from a community mental health team, plus other agencies to help break his long-standing heroin addiction, but at the time of the offence, he had relapsed and built up a drug debt.

It was in a bid to repay some of that debt that he committed the break-in.

“It’s quite clear this man is very vulnerable and, only that day, had been threatened about the drug debt and he was desperate to make some small token payment towards the overall debt figure, which was in excess of £2,500,” added Mr Styles.

Imposing the mandatory three-year sentence for third-strike burglars, Judge James Adkin made a 20-per cent, or 219-day deduction, for his guilty plea, leaving a jail term of two years and 146 days.

He told Blackburn his was a “rather pitiful” case, and that he spurned the support offered by various agencies by falling back into drug misuse