St Annes burglar left a distraught child's toys, hair bows, bobbles and diary strewn across a garden in Garstang

A house burglar ransacked a young family's possessions, stole from children's bedrooms, and left shattered glass all over their conservatory before making off with £20,000 of loot.

John Maughan, 42, of Clifton Drive North, Lytham St Annes, caused devastation to the family when he struck at a detached home in Catterall, near Preston,

In a statement, homeowner Adam Purnell said the fact Maughan had taken a teddy and hair bows, which would have been of no worth to the criminal, but treasured by his children, was particularly upsetting.

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Crown Court

He stole weddings rings, a Breitling watch, Tiffany bracelet, gold three stone diamond ring, eight Pandora rings, and other jewellery, along with a Toshiba laptop, a child's Amazon Kindle, and a soft toy cow.

The children returned to the house with their grandmother while the burglary was in progress, but fortunately she realised she had forgotten something from a shop and took them back into Garstang without going in.

Mr Purnell said the family was relieved his mother didn't follow her usual routine, otherwise they would have come face to face with the burglar.

He added: " We have no idea what he would have been capable of doing and what would have happened."

Maughan had three other house burglaries in Lytham taken into consideration during his sentencing.

They were a burglary in Lytham in which £6,620 of jewellery was stolen, another in Lytham on the same date where £1,100 of goods - including silver tea set - was stolen, and a burglary at a caravan on October 16, in which £8,000 of goods were stolen.

He faces a mandatory sentence under the three strike rule, which specifies burglars convicted of breaking into private homes three times must be sentenced to a minimum of three years in jail.

Maughan clasped his hands in a prayer-like stance and bowed his head as defending, Paul Humphreys said he had sold the items to buy drugs after relapsing due to suffering four bereavements in a short space of time.

He added: "He has told me he is thoroughly ashamed of what he's done, he would like to have written a letter of apology to the family.

"He says he prays for his victims every day."

Jailing him for four years, Judge Heather Lloyd said: " You say you are sick and tired of going to prison and you will take the help available to you - I hope that is the case.

"But only time will tell.

"The simple fact of the matter is you are a habitual thief and a burglar.

"How low can you stoop to take a child's teddy bear - what possible value could that be of to you?"

She added he had "no thought for the lives of those affected by his dishonest and selfish crimes".

He also faces a confiscation hearing next Friday to seize his £3,550 car, which is thought to have been bought with criminal funds, as part of Proceeds of Crime legislation.