A hungry burglar who helped himself to £1 worth of chocolate from a fridge during a flat raid is facing three years behind bars.
Ricky Elliott took the chance to pocket three Terry's chocolate orange bars, after sipping from a drink in the kitchen, during a break-in at Norfolk Street, Sunderland, in July.
The 40-year-old, who has over 150 previous convictions, was seen inside the premises by the frightened householder, who told police "I felt in danger".
Prosecutor Neil Pallister told Newcastle Crown Court: "He heard the offender leaving by the front door. He went to the kitchen and checked the fridge and realised chocolate bars valued at £1 had been stolen."
Elliott, who left the scene bike, was arrested nearby.
Mr Pallister told the court: "He was found to be in possession of the three bars of chocolate which had been stolen."
Elliott, of Rawmarsh Road, Red House, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to burglary.
He also admitted a burglary of a purse and contents from an office he sneaked into at Sunderland University's Edinburgh Buildings the month before.
The court heard because of his bad criminal record, which includes a number of house burglaries, Elliott faces a three year minimum jail term under the "three strikes" rule for persistent burglars.
Barry Robson, defending, said the three year minimum term may be unjust in Elliott's case, as he is becoming "institutionalised" as a result of the repeated prison sentences he has served and is in need of intervention.
Mr Robson said the burgled flat already had an insecure door and Elliott caused no damage to get in.
Mr Robson said: "He was running away from people he had drug debts to.
"He hid in the doorway.
"He found the door to be open at that time.
"It is a house burglary at the very lowest end of the scale of things.
"He caused no damage to the door, it was insecure anyway.
"He had a drink in the kitchen area and took some Terry's chocolate orange."
Judge Robert Adams adjourned the case for six months and said: "Because of the rather unusual nature of this particular house burglary it is at least arguable it might be unjust to impose the minimum term.
"I make no promises at this stage."
The judge said Elliott will be back in court in April but in the meantime must prove he can commit no further offences, comply with current court orders and seek help for his mental health problems.
Judge Adams added: "If you fail, I think you know what sentence will follow."