A HEADTEACHER has told of the devastation of a burglary in which 19 iPads used by special needs pupils were stolen.

The break-in at Sunnyside Primary School in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, was part of a crime-spree carried out by Richard Smith.

Teesside Crown Court heard Smith also raided a social club and pub in Middlesbrough as well as two garden sheds and stole tools and cash, and and also tried to get into a Toby Carvery.

Prosecutor Jonathan Harley told the court that he also shoplifted from a Sainsbury's store three times in five days and got away with almost £100 worth of goods.

In an impact statement, the headteacher Julie Sutton said the loss of the tablets - worth more than £7,000 - had been a huge blow, and left children scared.

The school has since spent £20,000 on improving security, she said, adding: "The burglary was enormously disruptive. It was a stressful time, upsetting.

Smith, of Ashfield Avenue, Middlesbrough, admitted three counts of theft, five of burglary and an attempted burglary.

His lawyer, Julian Gaskin, said the former scaffolder suffered two bereavements just before the spree started, and began using heroin and crack cocaine to cope.

The judge, Recorder Keith Miller, adjourned the case for a fortnight so a pre-sentence report could be prepared by a probation officer, and remanded Smith in custody.