AN ISOLATING 90-year-old pensioner died from Covid-19 less than a month after a prolific criminal burgled his home, a court has heard.

Stuart Hitchiner smashed through the kitchen window of a home in Landseer Road, Southampton during the early hours of December 17 last year.

Once inside, the 47-year-old painter and decorator stole an iPad, mobile phone, passport, Christmas cards and alcohol, a court heard.

Prosecution barrister, Oliver Wellings told how Hitchiner “conducted a messy search” of the man’s property throwing items onto the living room floor.

When the “vulnerable” occupant needed to use the toilet he saw that lights were on downstairs and that a window had been smashed. He was said to have been extremely frightened that the intruder would come up the stairs and even “thought of grabbing his walking stick to defend himself”.

Police later found blood at the scene of the crime and were able to trace Hitchiner using DNA analysis.

In an impact statement read to the court the victim’s stepdaughter said how the victim had lost his battle to pneumonia and Covid-19 on January 13, adding how the isolating 90-year-old could have been exposed to the virus by Hitchiner, and also by police officers entering his home to investigate the burglary.

The impact statement, read to the court, added: “I hope that when this man closes his eyes, he feels the pain, heartbreak and fear [that he caused].”

Appearing before Southampton Crown Court yesterday Hitchiner was charged with a single count of dwelling burglary - to which he previously pleaded guilty.

He has 25 convictions to 55 offences which include thefts, burglaries and robbery.

Defending, Damian Hayes said that his client had relapsed into drink and drugs at the time and had been living on the streets. He has little recollection of what happened while inside and is said to be ashamed of what he had done. Judge Christopher Parker QC jailed him for three years.