A CAREER house breaker found trying to smash his way into someone's home with a shovel is back behind bars, until 2016.

Burnley Crown Court heard how George Downs-Murphy, 47, went back on drugs after his mother - his only family - died while he had been in custody.

He had not been told and only found out on his release.

Downs-Murphy, who has 50 offences on his record, was on licence at the time and has been recalled. He has served several jail terms and was handed 52 months in November 2011.

The defendant, who had a claw hammer when police arrived, admitted attempted burglary with intent to steal at the property in Clement Street, Accrington, on April 2. Downs-Murphy, of Edmundson Street, Church, received a 16 month sentence, but will still be locked up when it's finished, as he has to serve the remaining half of his last sentence.

Sarah Johnson, prosecuting, said someone working at a nearby house heard noises at about 6.30pm and saw the defendant trying to prise open one of the rear windows with a shovel.

He called police, an officer attended and she discovered Downs-Murphy bent down, with a claw hammer in his hand.

Miss Johnson said the defendant was cautioned and said: "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be doing this. I'm looking for cash."

He had 49 previous offences behind him, 45 of them for theft and dishonesty. The defendant was sent to prison for 40 months for burglary in 2009 and had been a " three strike" raider facing a minimum of three years in the past.

Adrian Williams, defending Downs-Murphy, said he was not going to be released until February 2016.

His mother, his only family, died last December when he was in prison.

The solicitor continued: "Following that discovery, he realised then that he was totally alone. He says, to his shame, he relapsed and was taking a large quantity of diazepam. He wasn't thinking straight."

Mr Williams added: β€œHe is finding it particularly difficult in prison, more difficult than he has in the past and is being treated for anxiety and depression.”

Sentencing, Recorder Philip Curran told Downs-Murphy: "It would be in your interests to make sure, whilst you are in custody, you can address your issues, so that, even at 47, you can put all this behind you and start life afresh."