A FATHER tried to get cash for his child's birthday by smashing into two shops within 24 hours.

Craig Ham, 25, needed money to feed a drug habit he had since the age of 13 when he took a car and drove into One Stop and Tesco Express in April this year.

The father of two, of no fixed address, was handed more than five years behind bars for his crimes at Southampton Crown Court on Friday.

Ham pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, breaching a community order, failing to surrender to custody and fraud.

The court heard how Ham needed money last year to buy drugs, when he first broke into the home of a 90-year-old victim.

On November 17, he entered the pensioner's bungalow during the night, while she slept. He then carried out an "untidy" search of her bedroom, before emptying the contents of her handbag, leaving the mess across the room.

Then, after a period of non-offending, Ham needed more cash for presents for his child's birthday, and raided two stores in Hythe and Thornhill, but ended up with "not much at all", despite causing £76,000 worth of damage to the Hythe One Stop with the raid and commercial loss.

Mitigating, defence barrister Richard Onslow said: "He ended up taking part in these escapades, and got some of the takings, which was really, not much at all."

On April 27, having taken a vehicle, Ham, along with others, raided One Stop in Hythe by breaking through the front of the store.

On the same day, Ham went to the Tesco Express on Thornhill Park Road.

Ham and two others reversed their vehicle into the building, before they broke in and stole tills containing hundreds of pounds.

A few days later, on May 1, he also used a card, that wasn't his, to purchase a £20 bottle of vodka.

Presiding, judge Christopher Parker said that Ham's crimes were "foolish", despite hearing of Ham's troubled childhood.

He told the court: "You have had a difficult start in life, but these crimes are foolish.

"There is a significant period of non offending between December and April, but then you find yourself in these positions of causing damage to these stores, resulting up to more than £70,000 worth of damage, plus commercial loss of course.

"You have to learn, and you will have time to think on that."

Ham was given five years and ten months in prison.