A CAREER criminal who has spent the bulk of his adult life behind bars was back in prison today (Monday) for a burglary he can barely remember.

Kevin Hardwick had been out of jail for just a matter of weeks and was on an electronic tag night-time curfew when he stole tools and alcohol.

He struck at a garage attached to a bungalow in High Street, Eston, near Middlesbrough, in the run-up to Christmas last year, a court heard.

Hardwick admitted a charge of burglary today after police revealed that his DNA had been detected on a can of juice found at the scene.

The unemployed 35-year-old - who has 101 entries on a criminal record going back more than 20 years - was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he has been given sentences of three-and-a-half, five and six years in the past for offences of robbery.

Judge Pete Armstrong told him: "You know if you go on like this, you will just end up serving longer and longer sentences.

"I accept that this was not a planned burglary. You resorted to instinct, and this was just another episode of dishonesty."

Andrew White, mitigating, said Hardwick made no attempt to go into the house - occupied the time - adjoining the garage.

"He is extremely remorseful for what happened," Mr White told Judge Armstrong. "For his part, he has no real recollection of it.

"He suffers from a serious illness. The condition affects mood and memory, and he was prescribed benzodiazepam which he had taken.

"He has spent a lot of time in his life in custody. He has suffered extreme difficulty being resettled in the community."

Mr White said Hardwick, of Middlesbrough Road, South Bank, might need surgery to combat his condition after medication had not cured him.