A British judge has said burglars have courage when they break into homes and declared that prison did little good for anyone as he allowed a crook with previous convictions to walk free from his court.

Judge Peter Bowers admitted he could be "pilloried" for his decision to let Richard Rochford go free after Rochford admitted string of burglaries, Britain's Daily Mail newspaper reported.

Judge Bowers said Rochford had been harmed by prison after he became addicted to a heroin treatment drug while serving a sentence.

Judge Bowers said told Teesside Crown Court: "It takes a huge amount of courage as far as I can see for somebody to burgle somebody’s house. I wouldn’t have the nerve.

"Yet somehow, bolstered by drugs and desperation, you were prepared to do that.

"I think prison very rarely does anybody any good. It mostly leaves people the chance to change their own mind if they want to.

"I don’t think anybody would benefit from sending you to prison today. We’d all just feel a bit easier that a burglar had been taken off the streets."

Rochford burgled three homes in East Cleveland and tried to burgle another over five days.

He was given a two-year supervision order and threatened with jail if he appeared again.

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