A THREE-STRIKES domestic burglar is back behind bars having turned his attention on commercial premises.

Elliott Bowery was subject to a suspended prison sentence for handling a stolen car, last year, at the time of a break-in at a micro pub and bottle shop in Durham, on February 10.

Durham Crown Court, sitting at Newcastle, heard that entry to the Hop Knocker, in Marshall Terrace, Gilesgate Moor, was gained by kicking through a locked and secure rear door.

John Wilkinson, prosecuting, said Bowery, who was seen momentarily to be covering his face, then used a claw hammer to disable the CCTV system, before taking £120 float from a cash box behind the bar.

Mr Wilkinson said the bill for damage to the door and replacing the CCTV system reached almost £700, with the total loss to the business of £950.

Forensic evidence from the premises helped to link the defendant to the scene, as he left a fingerprint on a bag behind the bar area and a footprint matched with footwear recovered from him on arrest.

Mr Wilkinson said the aggravating features were the damage to the premises, the use of the claw hammer, indicating he went “equipped”, and his previous offending history, including the suspended sentence he was in breach of, by committing the offence.

The 23-year-old defendant, of Sharp Crescent, Gilesgate, Durham, admitted burglary and breaching a suspended sentence.

Lewis Kerr, in mitigation, said Bowery complied with parts of previous court orders, but conceded this was not his first such breach.

“He has reverted back to his to his slightly older ways to try to obtain money for his household.

“He found himself without a penny and no real mechanism of finding money to help pay his way.”

Mr Kerr said other than the damage to the door and CCTV there was no suggestion of further “ransacking” of the premises.

Judge James Adkin said there were elements of vandalism, given the use of the claw hammer to disable the cctv camera.

He imposed a 20-month sentence for the burglary and added six months for the breach of the suspended sentence.