A MAN who burgled a pensioner's home while she was in the bath was sent to a young offenders' institution for three-and-a-years yesterday.

Joseph Niles, 20, of Thorpe Street, in Easington, County Durham, admitted four charges of burglary at Teesside Crown Court.

Chris Williamson, prosecuting, said the first break-in occurred in July this year at a flat in Eastleigh Crescent, Seaham, east Durham, when the owner was at work. He said Niles stole £890 in giro cheques, £340 cash and a pair of jeans.

A week later, he said, Niles removed an air vent at the Stockton Road Service Station, in Seaham, and stole confectionery and batteries through the hole.

Nine days later, he struck at the home of an elderly widower in Seaham, who found 18 ornaments worth £2,500 belonging to his wife, who had died in May, had been stolen, along with a trinket box, £50 cash and a £100 watch.

That night, a 72-year-old woman living in Seaham, had forgotten to lock her door, said Mr Williamson.

While she was in the bath, Niles, acting with others, stole £100, insurance books, 80 cigarettes and £10 from her purse.

Also stolen was a key, a knife and jewellery worth £450.

Peter Kilgour, representing Niles, told the court that his client was receiving counselling for a drug problem and had helped the police recover some of the stolen items.