A BURGLAR who stole a Mickey Mouse watch has been locked up for three years.
Michael Johnson, pictured, took the watch – which was of only sentimental value – when he broke into an unoccupied house, Durham Crown Court heard.
“The owners were on holiday,” said Lindsey Colling, prosecuting.
“Their son was keeping an eye on the house in their absence.
“A neighbour heard the burglar alarm go off, and saw two men run from the property.
“The son was called and found the front door had been forced, and a bedroom, as he put it, ‘trashed’,
“A mobile phone left at the scene was linked to this defendant.”
The court heard Johnson’s partner was wearing the stolen watch when police arrived at the couple’s home in Wordsworth Avenue, Easington Lane.
“She said she had found it in the garden,” added Ms Colling.
Johnson, a father, admitted the burglary at Scariston, County Durham, on January 16.
The court heard that the 33-year-old he has more than three previous convictions for burglary. David Callan, defending, said in mitigation: “He qualifies for the minimum three-year sentence under the three strikes rule.
“The offence itself was carried out at an unoccupied house during the day, only property of sentimental value was taken and it has been returned.
“Mr Johnson wants to settle down with his wife, a nurse, and their 11-year-old child.
“He realises he cannot keep on going in and out of prison.”
Judge Penny Moreland jailed Johnson for three years.
The judge told him: “You were released in October of last year from a previous sentence for burglary, and in January you were burgling again.
“I accept you see the need to change the way you live your life, but Parliament has laid down the minimum sentence which must apply in your case.”
Johnson must also pay a victim surcharge of £120 when he is released from prison.