A CAREER thief who raided a garage while on a suspended jail term for a house burglary is behind bars for 17 months.

Lee Bleasdale, 31, was spotted at night, dragging a trolley of tools down a ginnel, by an off-duty police sergeant.

He ran off, but was chased and caught by the officer.

Drug addict Bleasdale claimed he was ‘utterly desperate’ for cash for food and not for a fix.

He had received 15 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, with a drugs programme and supervision last July, after he had broken into an unoccupied house in Cog Lane, which was in ‘pristine condition’ and ready to let, the day after coming out of prison, Burnley Crown Court had heard.

Ex-roofer Bleasdale was the dad of tragic toddler Levi Bleasdale, three, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in the town in a stolen car in September 2005.

The defendant, of no fixed address, has 40 offences on his record and first broke the law in 2000. He admitted burglary Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said the off-duty officer saw Bleasdale on February 10.

The drawers of the trolley were open and various tools and other implements were dropping on to the ground.

He approached the defendant, who claimed to be moving items for a mate.

The sergeant didn't believe that, identified himself and said he wanted to detain Bleasdale. The defendant ran off while the officer called for uniformed colleagues, but was caught and tackled to the ground. Bleasdale exercised his right to silence and made no comment when questioned Timothy Brennand, for Bleasdale, said: "He looks nearer 45 than 30. It's a life that has been ravaged by a pernicious addiction to Class A drugs."

The barrister continued: "He took what he felt he could sell very quickly, not to fund his next fix, but to buy food."

Mr Brennand said the defendant had, in fact, got real insight into his problems. He could see bereavement was linked to self-pity, which was linked to finding it completely impossible to give up drugs.

The defendant, who was on methadone, coped very well in custody because he was institutionalised.

The barrister said: "He can talk the talk when he's inside.

“The fact is there is very limited support when he gets out."

“The public would send out a lynching party if the sentence was anything other than custody.”