A THREE-STRIKES burglar returned to type within weeks of his release on licence from a previous prison sentence.

Simon Clark was granted his licence release in December, at about the mid-point of a previous 40-month custodial sentence imposed for a series of burglaries committed in the Coundon and Bishop Auckland areas, early in 2020.

Durham Crown Court was told that in a late night spree on February 14, this year, Clark made at least five known attempts to gain access to the homes of people who were in their properties at the time, in the Newfield area, west of Chester-le-Street.

Shaun Dryden prosecuting, said that at 10.40pm a man looking out of his window saw a male outside trying the front door of a house in Kensington Way, on the Roseberry Park Estate, before moving onto the neighbouring property, both without being able to gain entry.

A woman in the same street heard a noise outside her rear patio and went downstairs to see the figure of a man outside, shouting at her in a violent and angry fashion, while holding a plant pot.

Mr Dryden said having seen her, the would-be intruder, Clark, left and went out onto the main street, where he was arrested.

As word got around in the vicinity at least two further residents, one in Sandringham Way, and another in North View, reported that attempts were made to enter their homes the previous night, having checked CCTV.

When interviewed, Clark told police he had been in the area helping a friend to search for a pet dog that had run away.

He claimed that he tried what he thought was a shed door and another door, not believing it was a house entrance, in his attempts to search for the lost dog.

But by the time he appeared before magistrates the 39-year-old defendant, recently of West Street, Chester-le-Street, admitted five counts of attempted burglary.

Mr Dryden said Clark’s criminal record, featuring 54 convictions for 121 offences, includes a number for burglaries going back to 2002.

Read more: Coundon burglar struck at three homes, two in village, in spree

Lewis Kerr, mitigating, said on his release in December the defendant appeared to be making “positive strides in his life”, having moved away from the area where he had been committing previous offences to live with his brother not far from the area of his latest crimes.

Mr Kerr said as with his previous offending the spree in mid-February arose through his, “significant alcohol problem.”

Judge Ray Singh told Clark: “I’m afraid you are somebody who has no regard for other people’s personal possessions and property.

“You know every time you enter somebody’s house to steal the court imposes three years’ custody on you.

“I’m afraid you have not learned one jot.”

Clark, who was recalled to prison for 28 days after his most recent arrest, was jailed for a further 40-month term.

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