A prolific offender has been told his ‘feet won’t touch the ground’ if he commits any crime in the next two years as a judge gave him a chance to get clean from drugs.

John Chapman appeared in court after he carried out two burglaries in a matter of weeks – the second just the day before he was due in court for the first.

The 37-year-old targeted an empty house in Hartlepool on April 14 where he was spotted rummaging around inside by takeaway workers who alerted the police.

Teesside Crown Court heard how officers arrived on the scene within 15 minutes and Chapman was arrested as he climbed out of a window of the house on Sheriff Street.

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Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said Chapman forced his way into The King Johns Tavern in Hartlepool town centre on June 6 this year – the day before he was due to appear in court for the first raid.

This time the drug addict stole an empty till and left the landlord £150 out of pocket.

The Northern Echo: The King Johns Tavern, Hartlepool.The King Johns Tavern, Hartlepool. (Image: Google)

She said the defendant had 69 convictions for 97 offences, including three previous burglaries.

Chapman, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to both burglaries.

Calum McNicholas, mitigating, urged the judge to not activate the ‘three-strike’ burglary sentence as his client had never targeted a house where anyone was living at the time.

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told the burglar that he was willing to follow the recommendations of the Probation Service and impose a suspended sentence as long as he complied with a drug rehabilitation treatment order.

“There is no point making that suspended sentence if you are not going to put your back into it,” he said.

“If that is the case, it won’t be long before you are back here staring down the barrel of a three-year sentence.”

Chapman assured the judge he would take full advantage of any opportunity given to him.

He said: “I have been a criminal all my life and this is the first time that I have been given support to get off drugs.

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“I’m clean now and if anyone offers me drugs, I will refuse – I don’t want to be in prison again.”

The judge sentenced Chapman to two-years in custody suspended for two years and imposed the drug treatment order to give him a chance to turn his life around.

He added: “If you commit any further offences, you will start with the two years and probably something on top of that.

“The reason I am doing this is to give you a chance to completer the drug treatment order.

"If you appear before me again your feet won't touch the ground and you will be locked up."