A CAREER criminal who broke into the home of a sleeping Oswaldtwistle pensioner has been jailed for 12 years.

Johnathan Lee, 44, forced 74-year-old Daniel Yates to hand over a wallet containing £100 in cash, which he kept under his pillow.

Mr Yates, who was asleep in bed when he heard a loud bang, was so frightened by the experience that he refused to open the door to a police officer after ringing 999 following his ordeal, the court was told.

Four months later Lee also threatened to kill an 81-year-old disabled widow after breaking into her Skegness home in the middle of the night.

Lee, who has 28 other aliases, said he would "slit her throat" if she did not stop crying.

He fled with an engagement ring and gold bracelet bought by Mrs Parish's late husband together with cash and other jewellery.

During the break-in, Lee’s girlfriend girlfriend Karen O'Leary, 44, of Church, acted as a lookout and waited outside.

Michael Cranmer-Brown, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court both of Lee's victims had been traumatised by the ordeals after he gained entry by smashing his way in through kitchen windows.

He said Mrs Parish was unable to return to her home of "many years."

Mr Cranmer-Brown said before Lee left Mrs Parish's home he warned her "don't move, because if you ring the police I'll kill you."

Lee then handed the stolen property to O'Leary. She was found by police nearby with the jewellery bulging under her clothing.

The court heard Lee was jailed for eight years in 2003 for similar offences against five elderly victims including robberies in Bury and Blackburn.

Gorden Aspden, defending, admitted Lee had a bad record but told the court only a small amount of force had been used in his latest offences.

Robert Underwood, for O'Leary, said she had been going out with Lee for three months and was worse for drink when she was exploited as a "lookout" for the Skegness robbery.

Lee, of Burgh Road, Skegness, admitted the two robberies on 21 April and 24 July last year. O'Leary, of Walmsley Road, was jailed for 14 months after she pleaded guilty to a single charge of burglary.