A BOY burglar told a judge at York Crown Court he wanted to be jailed for a midnight raid on the home of a schoolmate.

Jim Withyman, prosecuting, told Judge Jim Spencer QC that the boy, then 16 years old, startled a 17-year-old girl awake as she slept alone in a house in Acomb, York.

The burglar shouted to an accomplice from the doorway of the girl's bedroom: "She's awake," and the raiders fled with a £150 DVD player. But the girl had recognised the 16-year-old because they had gone to the same school and gave his name to police.

After hearing from a member of York Youth Offending Team (YOT) and the boy's older sister, the judge told him: "It seems to me that you have the potential to be a serious criminal, but perhaps there is some reason that won't continue if you have the right help." But as he sentenced the boy to a two-year supervision order with intensive surveillance and supervision, an 11-hour a night curfew and tagging, the boy said "no".

"You would prefer to go to prison?" the judge asked.

"Yes," the boy replied.

The judge sent him to the cells at York Crown Court to think about it.

An hour later, the boy's barrister Nicholas Barker said he had feared that he would not manage to complete the order, but after talking to a member of the YOT team, had decided he could.

The judge confirmed the non-custodial sentence. The boy, now 17, from Acomb, pleaded guilty to burglary. Mr Barker said that when he committed the raid, he had been mixing with the wrong crowd and going through a difficult period. He had since got a job.

Updated: 14:49 Thursday, March 20, 2003