A repeat burglar got a shock when he attempted an overnight break in at a town centre barber’s shop, a court heard.

Andrew Fletcher Pickering caused £450 damage after making a hole in the roof of G-House Barbering, in Stanley, while attempting to gain access in the early hours of Monday May 20.

Durham Crown Court heard that the raid was ill-fated as someone was present inside the Front Street premises, an employee who was sleeping there overnight.

The court heard that the defendant was on licence at the time after his release from a previous prison sentence for commercial burglaries and was wearing a GPS tag, which meant his location could be pinpointed.

(Image: Northumbria Police)

It resulted in his arrest and appearance before magistrates within days, when the 49-year-old defendant, of Marx Crescent, Stanley, pleaded guilty to his latest burglary.

Due to his record of offending the case was sent to the crown court for sentence.

Elisha Marsay, prosecuting, told the sentencing hearing that aggravating features of the case include the defendant’s record for similar offending, the damage caused to the roof of the premises and the fact someone was present when he attempted to gain access.

Jordan Parkinson, for Pickering, said he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity when he made his first court appearance in the case.

She told the court: “I have to concede at the outset that his record does not make for good reading with his history of like offending.

“He was subject to licence after his release from custody and so was wearing a GPS tag.

“He’s been remanded in custody since May 22 and has sought help for substance misuse and would like to comply with an alcohol treatment requirement.

“Due to his antecedent history, he’s aware of the likely outcome today.”

(Image: The Northern Echo)

Miss Parkinson said the defendant began drinking to excess after the death of a family member and it has since continued, affecting his lifestyle.

“At the time of the offence he was intoxicated and it was a mistake as he had been trying to get back on the straight and narrow.

“It’s a constant cycle and he accepts until he stops drinking to excess the cycle will continue.”

Judge Peter Armstrong told Pickering: “I have to sentence you for burglary of a barber’s shop.

“What you were hoping to steal from there is hard to imagine.

“It was a most inept burglary as you were wearing a GPS tag and your movements were bound to have been found out.

“Your problem appears to be drink.

“You are going to have to stop or you’ll continue to commit offences like this.

“The only thing that can be said in your favour is that you are not a house burglar anymore.

“Somebody happened to be at the premises at the time, no doubt disturbed by your breaking in.

“But you caused £450 damage and your record is against you.

“I have lost count of the number of commercial burglaries you have committed and at the time you were on licence following your release after your last sentence.”

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Judge Armstrong told Pickering his future is in his own hands, adding: “You are going to have to decide if you are going to stop going into and out of prison at your age.

“At 49, it doesn’t do you any good, or your family.”

Imposing a ten-month prison sentence, the judge told Pickering it meant he would be released on licence in a few months and said: “Make sure you don’t commit another sentence like this or the sentence is likely to be in years.”