A ‘TRULY despicable’ career criminal who burgled three East Lancashire homes has been sent to prison.

Police officers said Lee Heath Jones was one of the most prolific burglars they had ever seen and that he had no regard at all for his victims.

The 43-year-old, of Hazel Avenue, Darwen stole expensive watches and electrical items, including laptops and iPads, when he raided the houses in Grane Road, Haslingden, and Earnsdale Road and Hillside Avenue, both Darwen, in July last year.

He was caught after officers from the pro-active burglary team at Blackburn saw him acting suspiciously driving up and down alleyways in the Darwen area.

When he was stopped on the forecourt of the Shell garage in Bolton Road, on July 26, police found walkie-talkies, crowbars, marigold gloves and trainers, which he used to to put on to commit the burglaries.

The officers had to pull him through the window of his vehicle after he locked the doors and refused to come out.

Jones had already been sentenced in December to four years behind bars for a burglary in Preston.

He has since pleaded guilty to the three further counts and was sentenced to another two years. It means his total jail term is six years.

Det Sgt Eric Halford, of Blackburn CID, said: “This arrest and conviction is testament to the fantastic but often unseen work done by officers in the division. Jones is nothing less than a career criminal.

He is quite simply one of the most prolific burglars the county has ever seen. We believe his arrest alone significantly reduced the level of burglaries in the area in the summer of 2013.

“Not only is he prolific, he is, quite frankly, a truly despicable character.

“He has shown absolutely no remorse for his crimes at any stage and I genuinely believe his only concern was to selfishly feed his own desires.

“The community is much better off with this person out of the way for a substantial period of time.”