A drug-addict burglar was caught by police after leaving a heroin needle near the scene of his crime.
The DNA on the needle was traced by CSI experts to Steven Walton, 38, who had 22 convictions for 81 offences including burglaries.
No doubt had the lady known of your record when you went into the house she would have been even more distressed.Judge Tony Briggs
Walton was homeless and sleeping in a back alley in Hartlepool when he broke into a woman’s three-bed terraced home.
She woke at 5.30am when she heard her door key turning on the inside of the front door, and her two dogs began barking.
She bravely went downstairs and she discovered the door unlocked, a window open and a sound system speaker had been moved from the fireplace.
Prosecutor Rachel Masters said police discovered a ladder up against a first floor window of the house in Duke Street, Hartlepool, and they also found the needle in the back alley.
When Walton was interviewed about the May 21 break-in, he said that the needle DNA meant that he must have been responsible, but he could not remember it.
He said that he had also been taking tablets on a large scale, Teesside Crown Court was told.
Miss Masters said the use of the ladder was an aggravating feature in the case, which merited a minimum sentence of 12 months.
The victim said she was now so scared that she often asked a friend to stay with her overnight.
Nicholas Rooke, defending, said Walton found the stepladder at the back of the house when he woke up shivering in just shorts and a T-shirt after bedding down in the alley.
Mr Rooke added: “He did not take anything and he does offer a sincere apology to the woman.
“He says that he is willing to meet with her in reparation if it would be of assistance to her.”
Mr Rooke added that Walton was willing to work with the Probation Service if he was given a drug rehabilitation course under a suspended sentence.
Judge Tony Briggs told Walton: “I am quite satisfied that it must have been an extremely frightening and distressing experience for her.
“Regrettably in cases of this nature custody is inevitable.
“No doubt had the lady known of your record when you went into the house she would have been even more distressed.”
Walton, of Belk Street, Hartlepool, was jailed for 15 months after he pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal.