A DRUG addict broke into schools to steal computer equipment to sell to fund his heroin habit, a court heard.

Daniel James Plaice, 27, made between £250 and £1,000 from the sale of the stolen computers, helping him to meet a £150-a-day heroin addiction last autumn.

Durham Crown Court heard his spree, in the Bishop Auckland area, came to an end after he was recognised on CCTV footage taken from the grounds of one of the targeted schools.

Plaice, of Lusby Crescent, in Woodhouse Close Estate, Bishop Auckland, admitted three counts of burglary.

Two were at St John's RC Comprehensive School, and the other at King James I Community College, both in Bishop Auckland, during November.

He asked for a further seven similar offences to be taken into consideration.

Martin Towers,in mitigation, said Plaice has a record for commercial burglaries, but had never targeted domestic properties.

Mr Towers said he only emerged from a long prison sentence for robbery last March, but within months his heroin addiction was becoming more acute, and costly.

"It's a bleak picture. He got into an awful lot of trouble in late autumn and was spending £150-a-day on the drug.

"The probation service believes the sooner his heroin addiction is tackled, the better."

Jailing him for 18 months, Recorder Jeremy Baker QC told Plaice: "I have a public duty to protect people from serious offences like this.

"It gives me no pleasure to jail you, but given the nature of the offences, I have no alternative."