A BUNGLING burglar who left a boot print at the scene of a £10,000 raid on a south Cumbria home under renovation has been jailed for almost four years.

Mark Chapman, 46, had denied breaking into the house at Winster, east of Windermere, over a weekend between June 28 and July 1 last year.

Numerous power tools - valued at £10,000 and belonging to a small firm which almost went out of business as a result of the loss - were snatched, along with a tool box and contents later found in a farm outbuilding where Chapman lived.

Padlocks were damaged to gain illegal entry to the burgled property, which was part of a development project, and plastic sheeting covering windows was removed.

But, after a trial at Carlisle Crown Court, Chapman was convicted of burglary. A jury also found him guilty of trying to burgle another home under renovation - on a residential Kendal street on August 22, 2019 - and also handling loot which had been stolen during a host of commercial break-ins during the previous year.

Jurors heard a forensic scientist had analysed a pair of boots found in Chapman’s living quarters within the farm outbuilding on Milnthorpe Road in Helsington, near Kendal. She concluded there was 'strong support' for the left shoe being the one that made the mark found on a piece of plastic in the burgled Winster property.

Opening the case against Chapman to the jury, prosecutor Tim Evans said: “The Crown say that the only reason the footwear mark consistent with the defendant’s own boots was recovered from the scene, and that stolen property taken in the burglary was recovered from his home address, was because he was involved in the burglary.”

Chapman did admit stealing and riding off on a £650 Trek mountain bike which a teenager had left outside Kendal’s McDonald’s outlet on October 21 last year, and illegally possessing a knife found in his trouser pocket when police caught up with him nine days later.

The court heard heavily-convicted Chapman had previously been a long-term heroin user who had got himself clean before a 'downward spiral' last year.

Jailing him for three years and 10 months, the judge, Recorder Mark Rhind, said: “It is clear during 2019 you went back to your old ways, and you went back to your old ways with gusto and enthusiasm.”