A TEENAGER has been jailed for 18 months after committing his third burglary in a row.

However, Judge George Moorhouse agreed that it would be unjust to jail Richard Smith for three years – the minimum given to “three strikes and you're out” burglars.

This was because the housing association property in Marton Grove, Middlesbrough, which accounted for his third burglary on November 16 last year, was already said to have been entered by other trespassers.

It had lain empty at the time and was boarded up.

Andrew Turton, mitigating, said Smith, who admitted the burglaries, lacked maturity and was at a crossroads in his life.

He said: “He has a history of instability and was drinking and taking cannabis to excess.”

The 18-year-old, of Dean Road, Grove Hill, Middlesbrough, had been offered a job working on a gas plant in the north of Scotland, the barrister said.

However, Judge Moorhouse, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, chose to immediately jail Smith, whose pregnant partner was in court.

The teenager would serve his sentence in a young offenders' institution, he said.