A CAREER criminal's 'mean spirited' burglary of a man's flat while he was in hospital for ten weeks has landed him in prison.

David Sam Soley, and an unnamed accomplice, ransacked the victim's flat, stealing televisions, a stereo, clothing and personal items, including his birth certificate.

The 36-year-old drug addict smashed his way into the flat in Wilshire Place, Tom Raine, Court Darlington, before stealing more than £2,700 worth of goods.

Paul Rooney, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court how the victim known as 'uncle' by the defendant's unnamed accomplice discovered the pair had stolen two televisions, a Sony stereo, an Armani coat and other clothing., as well as box of personal items.

Mr Rooney said the defendant denied any responsibility for the burglary when he was arrested. "He initially denied committing the burglary and the remained silent throughout the police interview."

He told the judge the defendant had 47 previous convictions for 100 offences, including 35 for theft and dishonesty and eight for burglary.

The Northern Echo: David SoleyDavid Soley

Soley, of Brougham Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary following the incident on May 19 this year.

Duncan McReddie, in mitigation, said urged the judge to give his client full credit for his early guilty plea despite delays in the case caused by technical issues.

"Soley had a very difficult, not to say, troubled childhood," he said. "He lost his father at eight and was running wild, using drugs aged ten or 11 and then in the system by 15 while injecting amphetamine.

"When things go wrong in his life, he turns to drugs and at the time of the offence he was in the grip of a drug binge."

Judge Jonathan Carroll told the defendant he would need to use his time in custody to address his drug problem and warned him that it no longer possible to use his childhood as an excuse for his criminal behaviour.

Sentencing the 'career burglar', the judge said: “A particularly unpleasant feature of this was not a random burglary or random selection of this flat, the person you committed the burglary with knew the victim and knew that he was in hospital – he even called him his uncle.

“This was a targeted burglary because he was highly vulnerable as he wasn’t home to protect his property, he was in hospital.

“It was a spectacularly mean-spirited offence.”

Judge Carroll sentenced Soley to three years and four months in custody.

He said: “I truly hope you use that time in custody to rid yourself of drugs, to give yourself a chance to put your life on an even keel, not only for yourself but to make it safer for people in general.”