A HOMEOWNER left a window open to allow her cat to get in and out - but instead serial criminal Paul Rowntree pounced to commit his FIFTH house burglary at the age of just 19.
Rowntree, sneaked into the woman’s home when she was at a friend’s for the night and walked away with her 47in television worth hundreds of pounds.
He sold it within hours for a paltry £80, which he spent on drugs.
It was Rowntree’s fifth conviction for house burglary. He was up in court for his first when he was aged just 13.
He is now starting his longest spell behind bars after he was locked up for 29 months at Teesside Crown Court.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh said Rowntree targeted his latest victim’s home in Hindpool Close, on Hartlepool’s Central Estate overnight on Friday, January 23.
The homeowner, who lives alone, had left her living room window open slightly so her cats could get in and out but locked all her other doors and windows.
Miss Haigh said: “When she returned the next day she noticed the living room window was considerably more open than she left it.
“She looked around the house and saw her 47-inch television from the centre of the room had been stolen.
“During the course of the police’s inquiries it came to their attention that the defendant had been seen and was identified as trying to sell a large TV in that area.”
Rowntree was found hiding in a house in Kimberley Street and arrested.
He told police he committed the burglary after being thrown out of home and he was intoxicated on diazepam pills.
He added he had sold the television for £80 and spent the money on drugs.
Miss Haigh said Rowntree’s record included 22 convictions for 36 offences including burglary, theft, assault, possession of drugs and racially aggravated public disorder.
He previously appeared four times in Hartlepool’s juvenile court for house burglary between 2008 and 2013.
Rowntree, of Lowthian Road, Hartlepool, admitted the latest burglary and asked for the theft of a mobile phone from a house he had been invited into to be taken into consideration.
Andrew Teate, mitigating, said: “He has found his way to the crown court very quickly. It’s a regrettable situation.”
He said Rowntree had pleaded guilty at the earliest chance, there was no ransacking of the house and said he acted on impulse.
Sentencing Rowntree to detention in a young offenders institution, Recorder Sarah Mallett said: “You are only 19 years of age but you have been before the courts for four dwelling house burglaries.
“The harm caused by this sort of offence is shown by the effect on this particular householder.
“She described she felt sick at the thought you might still be there. That’s a frightening experience for any householder.
“The seriousness is increased by the fact it was a night time burglary, you were under the influence of drugs and the offence was committed plainly so you could sell the television and buy more drugs.
“It is so serious only a custodial sentence can be justified.”