A BURGLAR who ransacked a house and stole priceless jewellery during a two-week crime spree is behind bars.

Michael Ellenor left a trail of victims after raiding eight homes in Darlington in a fortnight, Teesside Crown Court was told.

He was caught after he cut himself when he smashed a window to get into a property in Barmpton Lane on January 13.

The jobless 38-year-old left blood at the scene and police matched it to their database because he has a history of law-breaking.

Ellenor, of Freemans Place, Darlington, admitted burglary and asked for seven other offences to be taken into consideration.

He was locked up for three years after he appeared on a live video-link from Holme House Prison in Stockton.

Judge Howard Crowson told him he deserved credit for owning up to the other undetected break-ins to help police solve them.

The court heard how Ellenor has convictions going back more than two decades, with his first sentence for burglary in 2003.

Kieran Rainey, mitigating, said the unemployed roofer was being chased by loan sharks and was desperate for quick money.

Ellenor had borrowed from illegal lenders to feed his family, and his debt had spiralled to £4,000, Mr Rainey told the court.

When he was released from an 18-month jail term for handling stolen goods last year, the loan sharks quickly pounced, he said.

Judge Crowson told Ellenor: "Your situation is substantially aggravated by your antecedents and the seven other offences.

"But you have shown a degree of remorse and candour in approaching the police to help them detect the other burglaries."

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said drawers had been emptied all over a bed and floor during the raid while the occupant was out.

A purse containing £650, a Rolex watch and other jewellery worth more than £3,500 had been taken, Mrs Jacobs said.

Mr Rainey told the court: "He tried to get everything dealt with and identify burglaries the police might not have connected him to.

"The period of the burglaries is compressed. That was an effort from him to obtain money to pay a loan shark.

"He obtained money from a loan shark to feed his family. Upon his release from prison, the loan sharks were straight at his door.

"They told him he had to pay that £4,000 back immediately otherwise there would be consequences for his family.

"He is a qualified roofer but could not obtain any work, partly because of his previous convictions.

"He realises he has gone about this in completely the wrong way."

The other break-ins were in Whinfield Road, Hutton Avenue, St Albans Green, Rivergarth, Cromarty Close and Milton Street.

He stole a large quantity of jewellery, cash, alcohol, tobacco and electricals worth a total of more than £6,000.