A MAN with a past history of burglary is behind bars again over the festive period after a drunken break-in at the home of a near neighbour.

The couple living in the targeted property in Finchale Terrace, Chester-le-Street, woke with a shock to find a male figure fumbling round in their bedroom, at 2am on November 16.

Durham Crown Court was told the male householder shouted and then gave chase to the intruder, who ran towards the landing and out of the property.

He was pursued to the end of the street, where he disappeared out of sight.

Jonathan Harley, prosecuting, said when the householder returned home he noticed the back door open and went out to check if the family cat had gone outside.

While doing so he noticed a male figure and so asked him if he had heard anything or seen anyone running down the street.

As he was talking to him, police, summoned by the man’s partner, arrived and an officer went out and arrested the male, Gary Mullaney.

He was searched and found to be in possession of a bank card, in the name of one of the burglary victims, which he claimed to have found at a nearby friend’s address.

When he was interviewed later he claimed to have been drinking excessively and said he had no recollection of events after that.

But, appearing in court recently, the 48-year-old defendant, who was living in Finchale Terrace at the time, admitted burglary, taking the bank card, a phone charger, cigarettes, a beard trimmer and a coat,

The court heard his record of 83 offences, features 46 convictions for theft and other dishonesty, including three for house break-ins, from 2006, 2009 and 2010, making him a “three-strike” burglar.

His counsel, Vic Laffey, said the defendant was angry with himself that after an 11-year gap since his last burglary that he had committed a further offence.

“It’s the sort of thing that he thought he had put behind him.

“He was very drunk and that’s how it happened.

“He’s disgusted he did this, especially from a house just down from where he was living.”

Judge Ray Singh imposed the obligatory three-year prison sentence, for three time or more burglars.

But he deducted one-fifth because of Mullaney’s prompt guilty plea, making the final sentence one of 876 days’ length.

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