A SERIAL burglar who targets student houses in York has been jailed for four years after he raided two homes in one night.

Lee Anthony Harding, 37, had already served three prison sentences for raiding houses occupied by students before embarking on his latest crimes in the east of York, including one in Siward Street off Hull Road.

His barrister Glenn Parsons told the court Harding had managed to keep himself from burgling houses for nearly six years but then he found himself without money and his mother didn’t want him to stay at her home.

Recorder Jamie Hill QC said: “These were serious offences, going into occupied houses at night when people were asleep in them.

“Fortunately there was no confrontation, but that was down to good luck rather than anything else.”

The judge added: “I am prepared to accept that you found yourself homeless, but that is not an excuse for going into other people’s houses. Now you have to accept punishment.”

Harding, previously of Dringhouses and Tang Hall, denied two charges of burglary, but was convicted by a jury at York Crown Court after a short trial.

It is the latest in a string of burglary convictions for Harding.

In July 2013, he had received a community order at the same court with requirements including a six-month drug rehabilitation order for handling a bank card shortly after it was stolen in a raid on a student house and theft offences.

The judge who sentenced him then, Judge Shaun Spencer QC, said at the time that he “must have been associated” with the man who stole the card and gave a community sentence after hearing Harding would be supervised intensively under a probation service scheme aimed at repeat offenders.

The prosecution dropped a charge of carrying out the raid against him after he admitted the handling charge.

Mr Parsons told Recorder Hill that Harding had had a deep-seated and long-standing drug addiction for most of his adult life.

He told the court his client had offended in order to get funds to buy drugs.

But Mr Parsons said that under the court order, he had been making progress in kicking his habit and was on a methadone prescription that was reducing over time.