A DRUG addict who stole £3 after breaking into a vulnerable man's Redditch flat and grabbing him by the throat has been jailed for four years.

Stephen Burford, aged 32, of Salters Lane, Redditch, knew 59-year-old John Crane had been to the bank and waited for him to go back to his flat, Worcester Crown Court heard.

Stephen Davies, prosecuting, said Mr Crane, who needed a daily carer because of ill health, had gone out at 8.30am on September 18 this year to Redditch town centre where he had taken out £120 from a cash point. He bought cigarettes and food and took a taxi back to his home in Oakly Road.

He hid £100 in his flat because he knew people had been stealing from him and then lay on the bed to watch TV. He heard the door creaking open and realised someone was coming in. Burford, a man he knew as Steve, had kept a key from when he stayed there for a short time after his release from a previous jail sentence and used it to gain access.

Burford grabbed Mr Crane by the throat with both hands then punched him twice, knocking him down.

He shouted a number of times "Where's the money? I know you've been to the bank" until another resident knocked on the window and Burford ran. He grabbed three £1 coins on his way out.

Mr Davies said Burford had 19 convictions for 41 offences and was now on three strikes after already being convicted twice of house burglaries, meaning a minimum of three years in jail.

Jodie Smith, defending, said Burford, a father-of-two, had been battling drug addiction. She said on the day of the offence he had been desperate because he had no money to buy food or drugs. He did not break in but used the key he already had.

On one of his two previous house burglaries, he had got in through a window and on the other, he had barged past the occupant to get in and stolen £10, she said, adding that Burford had been trying hard in jail to tackle his drug use.

Burford pleaded guilty to burglary and stealing £3.

Judge Robert Juckes, QC, said Burford had committed three house burglaries in a short space of time. He had only taken £3 but there had been a confrontation and he had believed there was more cash.