A SNEAK burglar took advantage of the absence of householders to commit a day-time break-in at a property he previously visited.

Nicholas Wheatley gained entry to the house in Fulwell Road, Peterlee, on the afternoon of March 19, taking £87 and some cigarettes.

Durham Crown Court heard with the help of neighbours’ cctv system, Wheatley was identified as he was known to the couple.

Ian West, prosecuting, said days later he walked past the house shouting “grass”.

Mr West said despite being still bailed Wheatley was involved in a short high-speed chase round residential streets of Peterlee in a VW Golf, at 11.30pm on June 16.

It ended when he clipped a kerb, lost control and the Golf ended up lying on its side, forcing Wheatley to clamber free.

The 29-year-old, of Sheriff’s Moor Avenue, Easington Lane, admitted burglary, intimidating a witness, dangerous driving, without a licence and insurance.

Jan Waugh, mitigating said Wheatley had found his three weeks on remand in Durham Prison, amid near 24-hour lockdown, very difficult, having never previously been in custody.

Judge Ray Singh passed a 12-month prison sentenced, suspended for 24 months, with a six-month 6pm to 6am home curfew, £87 compensation, and banned Wheatley from driving for two years.

The judge warned him any breach of the curfew and the commission of any further offence in the next two years would land him back behind bars.