POLICE found a sleepy burglar snoozing in a garden yards from the house he had just raided.
Serial thief Michael Bentley had claimed to a jury he was not involved in the raid on the home on Preston Old Road, Blackpool, where property including a laptop and iPad tablet computer were taken.
He spoke of having gone for a walk, because he was unable to get to sleep after a few drinks.
He said he went on to fall asleep in a quiet spot.
But 30-year-old Bentley, formerly of Cunliffe Road, Blackpool, was found guilty by a jury at Preston Crown Court of carrying out the burglary one night last November.
The court heard how an axe, used to gain entry to the address, was found embedded on a windowsill.
As well as the two computers, a purse and wallet, along with their contents, were taken, plus a packet of cigarettes.
Police found a trail of stolen items leading from the burgled address.
The stolen cigarettes were found on Bentley.
The defendant had five previous burglary convictions on his record.
Last November, he was recalled to prison to serve the balance of a sentence passed in 2009.
Julian Goode, defending, told the court: “He still denies the offence.”
No weapon had been on Bentley when he was stopped by the police.
Judge Pamela Badley told Bentley, in passing a sentence of four years’ jail, the evidence against him had been strong.
In the area he was found, stolen items had been hastily disposed of.
The judge said “The overwhelming inference is you were disturbed in the commission of the burglary by patrols taking place in order to catch burglars at that time.
“I don’t find that you had a leading role in the burglary because there is no material to draw that inference.
“The most valuable things taken were fortunately returned to the occupants.
“Due to your previous convictions you are facing at least three years’ jail.
“Because of the previous convictions, it is appropriate here to take a higher starting point when sentencing.”