A long-term criminal’s bid to stay on the straight and narrow lasted for 18 months after his release from a lengthy prison sentence, in May 2021.

Michael Curley returned to crime by carrying out a house burglary and stealing clothing from a parked car, both on November 29, last year.

Durham Crown Court heard it was the removal of a set of keys among other valuables taken in the break-in at a house in Haswell, County Durham, however, which proved his undoing.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said the set of keys were located by a tracking device known as an Air Tag, with a check showing it was active at a property in Murton.

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Police attended the address and found Curley, with others, at 7.40pm.

Mr Baker said the defendant tried to flee the premises, but was arrested, and a bag of coins was recovered, plus the tagged keys and the burglary victim’s phone.

As Curley was on an electronically-monitored tag, himself, as part of his prison release licence conditions, a check of his movements revealed he had been in the vicinity of the burgled house that afternoon, when the break-in took place at Haswell while the occupant was away from home.

Mr Baker said the burgled property was subject of ransacking, with a bag of up to £160 in coins taken as well as valuables from a jewellery box.

The householder, who had to take time off work to sort out the mess as a result, also had to pay £240 to replace the back-door, damaged by the forced entry.

Mr Baker said three coats and a jumper, worth a total of £640, were taken from a parked car by Curley following the burglary.

Two of the coats were recovered, as they were alongside him when he was arrested at the premises in Murton later in the evening.

When interviewed, Curley gave police a prepared statement denying responsibility.

But the 43-year-old defendant, of Short Grove, Murton, pleaded guilty to the theft from the parked car when he appeared before magistrates on December 15.

He also admitted the burglary at today’s (Thursday January 12) crown court plea hearing.

Mr Baker said the defendant’s record, going back to youth court appearances in 1995, included previous burglaries, both domestic and commercial, and a robbery, for which he received a six-and-a-half-year sentence, in April 2018.

As a result of his arrest for the recent burglary he was readmitted to prison to serve the outstanding unserved part of the robbery sentence and is not due to be released until 2025.

Katie Spence, in mitigation said after his release on licence in May 2021 the defendant went a considerable time without reoffending, returning to family life and actively sought employment.

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Miss Spence said her client found work as a supermarket delivery driver and had a long-term job lined up at the Port of Tyne.

“He has wasted that opportunity by committing these offences and feels like he has let down his family, as he was so close to ending his life of crime.

“He has accepted responsibility for these offences and is sorry for his actions.”

Judge Jo Kidd said she was unable to make the sentence for the burglary and theft follow on from the time he is serving on prison recall.

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               Spennymoor man in court after five homes targeted in burglary spree

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She told the defendant: “You have a terrible record, but you were making such a difference after your release in May 2021, until you committed these offences towards the end of last year.

“It’s difficult to think, given the progress you had made with your ambitions for employment, why you got involved in offending again, particularly as you were on an electronically-monitored tag.”

She imposed prison sentences totalling 18 months for the recent crimes, which should not alter the defendant’s eventual prison release date, in 2025.