A SERIAL burglar of student accommodation returned to type on his release from his previous prison sentence.

Barry Lowery, who has a long history of breaking into university halls of residence in Durham, struck at James Barber House, in Anchorage Terrace, while a student was out, late on March 8.

Durham Crown Court heard that the undergraduate returned at 2.15am on March 9 to find his room had been entered, probably via a window he wrongly believed was locked.

Ian West, prosecuting, said several items were missing, including a lap-top computer, a rucksack, clothing, a wallet and a memory stick.

Mr West said after calling police the student cancelled his bank cards.

Four attempts were made to make small purchases using the card on March 9.

It was Lowery’s attempt to use it at a branch of Gregg’s that was his undoing, as cctv was recovered and a police officer recognised him.

He was arrested at a hostel where he was living on March 17 and a search led to the recovery of a number of the stolen items, but not the computer which had been disposed of by the defendant.

Lowery, 45, of Hajat Hotel, Shotton Colliery, admitted burglary and four counts of fraud.

His victim said he lost a lot of work and assignments on the computer which he has had to re-do, while he has since moved accommodation.

The court heard Lowery’s “extensive” criminal record includes burglaries going back to 1994, culminating in an eight-year and six-month sentence imposed for three student accommodation break-ins, in February 2017.

Adam Walker, for Lowery, said he took courses while in prison intending to move away from offending, but on release he was given hotel accommodation for only three days and so, “returned to what he knows and committed a burglary, seeking money for food, as he had none.”

Mr Walker added Lowery has ben recalled to prison on licence with an earliest release date in 2025.

Imposing a 54-month sentence, Judge James Adkin told Lowery: “You are a professional criminal, with a preference for targeting students, causing as much disruption as possible to their lives.”

The judge added that on Lowery’s eventual release a licence condition ought to be made, excluding him from Durham.