A SOUTHAMPTON window cleaner was caught trying to burgle the home of a customer who had died two days earlier.

Joshua Hill was attempting to break into her property when he was disturbed by a neighbour and fled empty handed, leaving his DNA on a screwdriver he abandoned at the scene.

Appearing at Southampton Crown Court, Hill was jailed for what the judge described as a “particularly mean and spiteful” crime.

Barry McElduff, prosecuting, said Hill was spotted trying to break into a house in Purcell Road, Southampton, on August 11 last year.

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He added: “A neighbour heard a bang at 7.30am and knew no-one was meant to be there. He saw the defendant trying to force open a window with a screwdriver.

“Hill was disturbed by the neighbour and ran off, leaving the screwdriver at the scene.

“The neighbour provided police with a description of the defendant and was subsequently able to identify him.”

Hill had been working as a window cleaner in the area and claimed he must have handled the screwdriver for an innocent reason, the court heard.

Mr McElduff also referred to a burglary which took place in Carisbrooke Road, Southampton, in which several items were taken, including five bank cards. Police located Hill and searched his bag, which was found to contain the stolen cards. The officers also discovered a lock-picking kit.

Hill, 24, of Parry Road, admitted one attempted burglary, handling stolen goods and going equipped.

Mark Florida-James, defending, said: “The defendant realises how unacceptable his behaviour has been. He has a long-term issue with drugs and goes over the top.”

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The court heard that Hill had appeared at one point to have stopped committing offences.

But Judge Christopher Parker, referring to the attempted burglary at Purcell Road, said the defendant reverted to crime to fund his drug habit and did so in a “particularly mean and spiteful way”.

He added: “The offence involved a breach of the trust which had been placed in you in the past. You targeted a property because of your knowledge of it and the owner.”

The judge added: “Following the burglary committed in October you received various cards, including five bank cards. You acquired that property for your own personal use.”

Hill was jailed for a total of 18 months but will spend only half his sentence behind bars before being released on licence.