A VETERAN burglar who ransacked an elderly woman's home while she was in respite care has been jailed.

George Minas, 43, is beginning a 24-month sentence for a raid on the Bury home of Anna Novak, who was said to be furious at having to pay for repairs she could ill afford.

But his partner-in-crime Roy Fielding was given a second chance by Judge Mark Savill, who heard how the 51-year-old had been making efforts to turn his life around before the pandemic broke up his support network.

Paul Treble, prosecuting, told Minshull Street Crown Court that Mrs Novak had been forced to move out of her home, after suffering a fall, and into respite care.

Police were alerted to a potential break-in at her home in the early hours of July 22, amid reports two men had been spotted inside.

When officers attended the scene, Fielding was found on the roof of a nearby shed, the court heard, and he had jewellery taken from the house on him, along with a pair of pliers.

Later Minas, without any real explanation, returned to the house, in a dishevelled state. Police believed he was the second intruder and jewellery from Mrs Novak's home was also found in his possession.

Andrew Scott, for Fielding, said his client had been receiving assistance from the community drugs team in Bury for a longstanding addiction problem.

But Mr Scott told the court these appointments had dried up because of the pandemic and Fielding accepts he was foolishly tempted to commit the offence.

He also said there had been an 11-year gap in the defendant's offending history.

Roger Brown, for Minas, said the defendant had been taking temazepam on the night of the burglary, which might explain his behaviour.

The father-of-three had been on a methadone course, he added, and had secured his own property, which he could return to if he remained out of prison.

In a letter he read out to the court, Minas said he was "terrified", as he had COPD, that the prison authorities would place someone with coronavirus in his cell.

Jailing him though, Judge Savill said: "You should have thought of this before burgling the home of this elderly woman."

Minas, of Radcliffe Road, Bury, admitted to burglary. Fielding, of Warth Road, Bury, pleaded guilty to burglary and going equipped for theft.

He was given an 18-month prison term, suspended for 20 months. Fielding must complete 150 hours community service, 15 rehabilitation activity days and be the subject of a six-month drugs rehabilitation order.