A MOTHER-of-four was left petrified after being confronted by a house raider who took cash from her children's money boxes, a court heard.

The victim was asleep on the settee of her Oswaldtwistle home around 10.30am, after the school run, last December 2. She was woken by noises and looked up to see intruder Jay Leonard smiling at her. He then stared at her as she shouted, ‘Who are you?’, before leaving the property in Blackburn Road.

Prosecutor Stephen Parker told Burnley Crown Court: “She said she was terrified. She didn't know whether there was somebody else in the house or he was on his own. He had been in all three of her children's bedrooms and money boxes had been opened.

“In her victim statement, she says, ‘I have been left absolutely petrified. I feel sick at the thought somebody has searched my children’s bedrooms and stolen their money’.”

The hearing was told Leonard, 20, became a serial burglar last year, striking at two shops in Accrington in June and July and then going on a house invading spree in Oswaldtwistle last November and December.

The defendant, from the area, but of no fixed address, admitted five burglaries and was locked up in a Young Offenders’ Institution for a total of 28 months.

Daniel King, for Leonard, said: “He's gone very quickly and very seriously off the rails. He has a distinct lack of skills and of maturity."

Leonard thought the householders would be out during the day and he was trying to get food or items to sell for food.

The solicitor added: “He asked me to tell the judge he is, in his words, getting his head together.”

Sentencing Leonard, Judge Beverley Lunt said of the attack on the mother's family home: “It must have been very frightening for her, which you don't seem to understand.”