A SERIAL burglar went on a one-man crime spree in the early hours of the morning when he targeted five business premises in little over an hour.

Stuart Blackburn successfully broke into two pubs stealing booze and a charity box before turning his attention to a florist, a butcher, and a sandwich shop.

The 31-year-old used an axe to smash his way into the Roundel and Oddfellows pubs in Thornaby between 2.30am and 3.30am on August 13.

He was disturbed by the landlady while he was creeping around in the Roundel pub, which opposite his own home, before he managed to steal two bottles of gin worth £40, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The defendant was positively identified by the distinctive tattoos on his arms

Blackburn also manage to force his way in the Oddfellows pub where he stole a charity box before fleeing, said Jane Waugh, prosecuting.

Miss Waugh said the charity box was recovered and had traces of Blackburn's blood on it.

The Northern Echo: Stuart BlackburnStuart Blackburn

She said the defendant then headed into the town centre where he was again caught on CCTV smashing windows of Heaven Scent florists, Roberts Family Butchers, and Subway.

Blackburn, of Harlow Crescent, Thornaby, pleaded guilty to two burglaries and three attempted burglaries.

Andrew Turton, in mitigation, said the father-of-two was fully aware that he is facing a custodial sentence for the offences.

He added: "His best mitigation is the guilty pleas that were tendered in the lower court.

"He unfortunately had been using prescription drugs which weren't prescribed to him.

"These drugs combined with alcohol led to the commission of these offences when he targeted a number of commercial premises."

The Judge Recorder Chris Smith branded Blackburn a one-man crimewave after targeting all five businesses within a few hours in August this year.

"You have a truly appalling record for offences of dishonesty, a great number of them seem to be for targeting commercial premises," he said.

"All of these offences took place at a time when every business is struggling and businessowners who are hard working, can do without the upset caused by these offences."

The judge sentenced Blackburn to a total of two years and ten months for all five offences.