A SERIAL burglar is back behind bars after he was caught prowling around a family home in the early hours of the morning.

Sean Marshall stole a mobile phone and charger before being disturbed by the householder who was sleeping on the sofa while the defendant was filling up a rucksack with stolen goods.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 41-year-old had also taken a kitchen knife out of a drawer and left on the worktop 'just in case he needed it' during the burglary.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said Marshall climbed over the rear wall of the house on Tempest Road, Hartlepool, to gain access to the property before searching it for goods.

He said: "He was awoken by someone leaving the premises by the back door, initially he thought it was his partner leaving to let the dog out but he soon realised it was a man.

"The defendant saw the occupant and ran back into the rear of the property and tried to get over the gate; he was grabbed by the homeowner but escaped and a short pursuit ensued. He stopped when he thought about his family in the house."

The court heard how the householder used the 'find my phone app' which tracked it to the defendant's home address.

When police attended, Marshall's father said he would n o longer lie for his son and told the officers where he was. The phone was recovered from a bin at the address.

A victim personal statement from the householder said his family now felt unsafe in their own home and the slightest noise left them feeling 'on edge'.

Mr Soppitt said the defendant had 11 previous convictions for burglary and his latest offence was carried out while he was on prison licence from a 67 month sentence.

Marshall of Dobson Place, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to burglary following the incident on August 22.

Ian Mullarkey, in mitigation, said his client had managed to clean up his drug habit following his release from custody but the death of his sister had triggered a relapse.

Judge Jonathan Carroll jailed Marshall for three years after leaving the family devastated by the impact of the burglary, especially after he removed a kitchen knife and laid it out ready to use.

"You have a poor record of previous convictions, a number are highly relevant convictions for dwelling house burglaries, some 11 previous convictions, additionally this one while on licence for similar offences," he said.