A PAIR of crooks who went on a late night burglary spree have seen their prison sentences extended.

Arthur O'Leary and Michael Stokes targeted four homes in rural County Durham and Cumbria in the early hours of the morning.

The pair forced entry to the properties before ransacking them and stealing jewellery, cash and cosmetics.

Durham Crown Court, sitting in Middlesbrough, heard the pair were jailed for three years for the burglary of a house in Melmerby, Cumbria, when they appeared at Carlisle Crown Court in March.

Stokes and O’Leary forced entry to a house before stealing jewellery, watches, cash and clothing.

The Northern Echo: Arthur O'LearyArthur O'Leary

The pair were seen leaving the property by a local resident who noted down the registration number of a Vauxhall Astra, which the offenders made off in.

During the search of the vehicle goods stolen from two house in the Barnard Castle area were recovered.

Paul Rooney, prosecuting, said the pair had already struck at a house in Cotherstone and another in Barnard Castle itself using the same method of entry.

He said in the first burglary they stole a gold ring belonging to the homeowner's son who had died 34-years ago.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Rooney said the woman had been left 'angry and upset' at the thought of losing the precious ring – which was later recovered.

The second victim said his life had been turned upside down by the burglars after they ransacked his home.

O'Leary, 35, of no fixed abode, and 29-year-old Stokes, of Westmorland Rise, Appleby, Cumbria, both also confessed to another burglary in Barnard Castle which was taken into consideration for sentencing.

The Northern Echo: Michael StokesMichael Stokes

Vince Blake-Barnard. mitigating on behalf of Stokes, said: "He accepts that he has let himself and his family down."

While Khadim Al'Hassan, for O'Leary, said his client hadn't gone out on February 7 with the intention to burgle homes but accepts that is what happened.

Judge Ray Singh passed a four month sentence to run consecutive with the three years' in custody the pair were sentenced to Carlisle Crown Court.

The judge condemned the pair for putting the victim through misery when she realised her son's ring had been stolen. He added: "You have committed offences in Cumbria and Durham on the same night, these were not offences committed on the spur of the moment."