A DRUG addict who burgled a nursing home in the middle of the night as its residents were sleeping has been given a two year jail sentence.

David Dale, who has a criminal record consisting of more than 200 offences, rifled through lockers in a staff room at the nursing home in Bath Lane, Stockton.

The 27-year-old was disturbed by a frightened member of staff and claimed he was looking for his grandmother, but had got lost.

He was let out, but left a footprint impression at the scene, which tests showed matched very strongly to the footwear he was wearing after his arrest by police.

Dale admitted burglary on December 27 last year, although nothing was stolen in the raid.

Sarah Masters, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said two days earlier – on Christmas Day – Dale broke into the David Lloyd gym in Stockton and took a tin from behind the bar which had up to £100 cash in it.

He was seen on CCTV camera, but denied being the man responsible and was convicted of burglary after a trial.

Dale, of Pilkington Street, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, was also convicted of a separate supermarket theft and admitted possessing a quantity of heroin and amphetamine.

He had been on bail for some of the offences and was subject to the terms of a previous suspended sentence imposed on him in October last year.

Dale grinned from the dock as his barrister, Andrew Turton, described a “fairly dismal picture” in which he said his client had searched for cash to pay for drugs and food.

He said: “He is still a young man whose life has been blighted by drugs and has never been able to avail himself of any assistance to rid himself of that problem.”

The judge in the case, Recorder James Adkin said Dale had a terrible record and only custody for his latest offences would suffice because of their seriousness.

He said there were aggravating factors with the nursing home burglary as it was in the middle of the night and there were vulnerable and elderly residents on the premises.

Dale remarked “Cheers” as he was jailed for two years by the judge. He will be released on licence at the one year mark.