A householder returned home after going out for 45 minutes to discover an intruder had taken the chance to sneak into the property and remove valuables in his absence.

Durham Crown Court heard that the victim dropped off some of his possessions at his home address, in Shildon, on Friday June 17.

Kate Barnes, prosecuting, said he went out at 8pm and came back to the premises, in Co-operative Street, three-quarters-of-an-hour later.

He returned to find a number of black bags had been opened and items from them were strewn all over the kitchen.

He noticed two tv sets from upstairs had been moved downstairs, while a £10 note and a bank card were missing from his bedside table.

Miss Barnes said a pair of antique binoculars were also missing, while more items were strewn across upstairs rooms.

By 9.45pm he was informed of a failed attempt to use his bank card to buy a £10.49 packet of cigarettes at a local convenience store.

He visited the shop, where the cctv was reviewed by police and an officer recognised the card user as local three-strikes burglar Dwayne Myers.

His fingerprints were also recovered from one of the moved tv sets.

When arrested and interviewed on June 23, he claimed an unkown male approached him and asked him to use the bank card at the shop, while he denied having been in the house.

He then changed his story to say a group of youths asked him to use the card and claimed there would be no forensic evidence found in the house to link him to the break-in.

Read more: Four arrested after stacks of cash and bags of drugs located in Shildon

Once the fingerprint lift result emerged he used the excuse that tv sets are, “moved around all the time” and he could have touched it any time.

When charges of burglary and fraud were put to him at court, the 35-year-old defendant, of George Street, Shildon, who appeared via video link from HMP Hull, admitted both offences.

The court heard his 32 past convictions for 60 offences include three previous domestic burglaries.

Miss Barnes said the victim of his latest crime now feels uncomfortable being in his house and is worried the perpetrator of the burglary may return.

Mark Styles, for Myers, said he is apologetic for his behaviour and he did not believe anyone was living at the house at the time.

“He has been living a chaotic lifestyle and the subject of a number of court orders, as he struggled with a drug addiction.

“He tells me he wants to get all matters dealt with but realises it’s ultimately down to him to make a change in his lifestyle.”

Mr Styles said while on remand in prison at Hull he has a job as a cleaner and has reduced his methadone intake.

Recorder Ian Mullarkey told Myers his case is aggravated by his record and the court is bound by statute to pass a three-year sentence, allowing the defendant a 20-per cent deduction to reflect his guilty pleas.

The final sentence passed was one of 876 days, about two years and five months.

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