A man was shocked to find a burglar in the bathroom when he returned home with his son one evening.

Durham Crown Court heard that when the intruder, Benjamin Stafford, was confronted by the householder, he told him: “I’m looking for my mate”.

But he made no attempt to flee as the police were summoned and when officers arrived they arrested Stafford, who was by then sitting in the living room, at 8.20pm on January 20.

He was searched and found to be in possession of 14 diazepam tablets plus an amount of silver change, all taken within the property.

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Charlie Thompson, prosecuting, said the householder confirmed about £20 worth of silver change in a bag, plus some medication, appeared to have been taken by the defendant.

Stafford made no comment when he was interviewed but he admitted a charge of burglary when he appeared before magistrates on February 1.

The case was sent to the crown court, where Mr Thompson told the sentencing hearing that the 33-year-old defendant, of Durham Road, South Stanley, now has only two convictions for four offences, including the burglary.

Other cautions and convictions were for shoplifting and there is nothing on the short record of the sort for which he was before the court, which Mr Thompson said appeared to be “opportunistic”, with no element of pre-planning or going equipped.

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Brian Mark, in mitigation, said the defendant admitted the offence at the outset of proceedings and has spent several weeks in custody, his first taste of life behind bars.

“This offence was brought about through his drug addiction, as the author of his probation pre-sentence report has pointed out, suggesting he would be assisted by a drug treatment requirement.

“As the court has heard, he is not heavily convicted and it’s no excuse, but the explanation was his addiction to drugs.

“He tells me he is drug-free now after a few weeks in custody and doesn’t want to go back to prison again.

“It’s been a very nasty shock to the system for him.

“He’s unlikely to come back before the court again.”

Judge Nathan Adams told Stafford he was caught going through belongings at the house, although he accepted his claim that he had little memory of how he got there and what he was doing, due to the drugs he had taken.

“You are not a typical dwelling house burglar.

"You have largely stayed out of trouble despite your drug problem.

“I accept you acted on impulse, but the homeowner returned while you were still in the premises.

“It’s aggravated by the fact his child was there at the time.”

The judge said he accepted the limited scale of the burglary and the fact that the defendant effectively stayed waiting for the police to arrive.

Judge Adams said given his record, his prompt guilty plea, his remorse and the fact he has spent several weeks in custody, on remand, he could avoid passing a prison sentence.

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Imposing a 12-month community order, he said Stafford must abide by a drug rehabilitation requirement (DRR) and take part in ten rehabilitation activity days, overseen by the Probation Service.

Judge Adams told Stafford: "I very much hope this is not the start, but the end of your offending behaviour.”

He told him that as part of the DRR Stafford must attend monthly reviews before the court to check on his progress in attempting to remain drug-free, with the first on April 19.