'An appalling history of crime' - Prolific burglar jailed after break in

James Smith was jailed for 22 months for burglary. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

James Smith was jailed 34 months for a string of offences - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A prolific burglar with an 'appalling history of crime' was caught red-handed trying to break into a city pub, a court heard.

James Smith, 43, who has 68 convictions for 312 offences, was arrested after an off-duty police officer spotted him trying to break into The Woolpack Yard pub in Muspole Street,  Norwich Crown Court heard.

Martin Lahiffe, prosecuting, said that the officer recognised Smith as someone who was wanted when he saw him in Pottergate.

He then kept him under observation with the help of another officer before catching Smith trying to break into the pub.

Smith was arrested by the officers and was found to have been carrying two screwdrivers and a wrap of amphetamine.

Mr Lahiffe said his arrest on January 12, this year, ended Smith's crime-spree which included a burglary in Swan Yard, King Street, Norwich, in which a purse and pendant was taken on August 22, last year, and stealing £315 from the till in a burglary at Ciscoes Pan Asian and Sushi restaurant, in Ber Street, Norwich, on December 19, last year.

He also admitted an attempted burglary at Northgate Needlecraft, an embroidery shop in Great Yarmouth, when he caused £185 damage to a gate trying to break-in on New Year's Eve, last year.

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Mr Lahiffe said that Smith had also caused £700 damage by cutting off his electronic tag.

Smith of Laundry Close, Norwich, admitted burglary and attempted burglary and criminal damage. He also admitted possession of amphetamine.

Jailing him for 34 months, Judge Stephen Holt told Smith: "You have the most appalling history of crime."

He added: "It does not seem to be be more than a few months before you are then you are back in front of the criminal justice system."

Judge Holt said it was one of the longest records he had come across in a long time and warned Smith that next time he committed a house burglary he would be looking at a starting point of three years.

David Stewart, for Smith, said he displayed highly impulsive behaviour and said: "He knows there is only one sentence today and he is realistic about it."

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