A THREE-STRIKES burglar was caught in the act by a woman who confronted him in her living room.

The householder was upstairs at her home, in Cleadon Street, Consett, when she heard a knocking sound and a male shouting, at about 6.30pm, on August 8.

Durham Crown Court was told she recognised the voice as a man who lived in a flat across the road from her.

She ignored the banging and shouting and went downstairs a few minutes later.

Paul Cleasby, prosecuting, said when she went into the living room she saw intruder Brian Brunskill, who made excuses why he was there.

She could not understand what he was saying and told him to get out of her house.

Mr Cleasby said she noticed the contents of her handbag were tipped on the floor and a carrier bag into which he had placed valuable ornaments.

Her son called the police on his return home and officers carried out a search of Brunskill’s flat where he was found and arrested.

Mr Cleasby said he was clearly under the influence of some form of drug and took exception to being detained, digging his nails into the arresting officer’s arm.

Investigating officers recovered local cctv footage showing the defendant banging on the front door of nearby properties, earlier that evening.

When interviewed, Brunskill made no comment.

Appearing via video link from nearby Durham Prison, the defendant, of Beverley Gardens, Consett, admitted burglary and assaulting an emergency worker.

The court heard he has three previous offences of house burglary on his record since the three-strikes system came into force, in 1999.

He also committed a shop burglary, receiving a community order, in December.

Liam O’Brien, for Brunskill, told the court: “The defendant is a desperate man, who, at the age of 42, has not worked for nearly 20 years.

“He lives an empty existence and is desperate for some meaning in his life.”

The court heard Brunskill was initially on a curfewed tag while on remand awaiting his court appearance.

But, Mr O’Brien told the court: “He handed himself in last Friday and asked to start his sentence. He’s realistic as to his fate, but he wants to go on to rehabilitate himself.”

Judge Ray Singh told Brunskill: “This is not the first time you have gone into someone’s house, grabbing what you can to satisfy your addiction to drugs, and, only months earlier, you were on a community order for burglary at commercial premises.

“One can only imagine how frightening this must have been for the lone female in that house.”

He imposed the statutory three-year sentence for third strike burglars, less 20-per cent, almost seven months, because of his guilty plea.

Seven days was added for the assault on the officer.

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