A BUNGLING burglar who was caught after police followed his footprints in the snow has been warned he could face jail.

Father-of-one, Lewis Ward, was arrested at his home in Raby Street, Darlington, after two police officers followed footprints he had left in snow for an hour-and-a-half.

The 28-year-old pleaded guilty to burglary at Darlington Magistrates’ Court today (Tuesday, January 29) and was told he could face a prison sentence.

John Garside, prosecuting, said when police officers arrived on the scene of the burglary of the house in Vine Street at 11.30pm on January 18, they noticed a set of distinctive footprints in the snow outside the property.

They followed the prints down back alleys and nearby roads, which led to Ward's house in Raby Street. Officers raided the house and found his wet trainers, which matched the footprints left in the snow, as well as recovering the stolen iPad.

Mr Garside said: "He must have realised what he had done as he put the iPad behind the wardrobe and charger under the washing machine."

Jonathan Harley mitigating said: “This is a completely and utterly baffling offence. Mr Ward is unable to offer any reason as to why he decided to enter the property and remove an iPad.”

Mr Harley added Ward, who was drunk at the time of the incident, was going through a bad time with the mother of his two-month old baby and had turned to drink to cope.

He said: “He had been drinking at home alone from around 7pm to 8pm, he had two bottles of wine and had gone out for some air.

“It is a very serious offence and Mr Ward fully accepts he is in serious trouble.”

Sentencing was adjourned until February 19 to allow probation to prepare a pre-sentence report and Ward was granted conditional bail.

Sergeant Daryl Edmunds of Darlington police, who followed the footprints with his colleague, PC John Forster, said: “It was good old fashioned policing.

“It was very difficult at times trying to follow the footprints as sometimes they were mixed in with other people’s prints.”

Sergeant Dave Barker of Darlington police said: “It was an outstanding police effort. All criminals in Darlington should be warned that police officers are out on during the night, patrolling the streets and they will arrest anyone who is up to no good.”

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