A BURGLAR who left a family devastated after he ransacked their home and stole irreplaceable mementos has been jailed for 30 months.

Ryan Ludgate targeted the family home when he went on a 24-hour burglary spree breaking into properties near where he lived in Darlington.

One of his heartbroken victims told Teesside Crown Court the impact his burglary is still having on her family months later.

In a poignant victim personal statement, Sarah Harris told Ludgate how the family had been left traumatised after returning home to find clothes and personal belongings strewn around the place and sentimental items, including a watch belonging to her husband’s late father, stolen.

Fighting back tears, Mrs Harris said “We have thrown out items like underwear and bedding because we cannot bear the thought of you having touched our personal belongings.”

Vicki Lamballe, prosecuting, said Ludgate stole £7,000 worth of goods from the Harris’s home, including two mountain bikes and a laptop containing images of deceased family members.

The Northern Echo: Ryan LudgateRyan Ludgate

The court heard how the 25-year-old had earlier smashed his way into a house on Westminster Road before ransacking the property and stealing an Xbox and iPhone.

Ludgate then entered a house on Heron Close but fled empty handed when he realised that someone was home at the time.

The court heard how the defendant was on a suspended sentence for a non-dwelling burglary at the time of his latest offences.

Police used CCTV to trace his movements and he was caught on camera pushing the two mountain bikes away from the Mrs Harris' home on Flamingo Close.

Ludgate, of Starmer Crescent, Darlington, pleaded guilty to three charges of burglary last October.

Jamie Adam, in mitigation, said he hoped Mrs Harris's 'poignant' words had had an impact on his client who had slipped into drug addiction after the death of his grandmother and suicide of his mother.

Judge Jonathan Carroll praised the bravery of Mrs Harris as he sentenced the defendant to 30 months in prison.

He said: "The continuing anguish that she suffers is clear to be heard, the raw emotion and the continuing medical care that she and her daughter receive to cope with the anxiety triggered by your burglary of their home."

The judge also activated his 12-week suspended sentence.