A professional beggar who turned to crime after his income dried up during lockdown has been jailed for raiding a family’s home as they slept upstairs.

Quinn Britton has been homeless since he was 16 but managed to fund a heroin habit for four years by begging on the streets of Barnstaple and Bideford.

He fell in with more experienced criminals after his income dropped and ended up committing a string of offences.

They ended with him and older man Steven Trower breaking into a house in Bideford and using stolen bank cards to buy food, vodka and Jack Daniels.

In the previous two months he had been arrested for possessing heroin and carrying a knife, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Britton, aged 20, of no fixed address, admitted burglary, drug possession, having a knife in a public place, handling a stolen bank card and three counts of fraud. He was jailed for 14 months by Judge Timothy Rose.

Trower, aged 40, was jailed for two years and four months at an earlier hearing

Herc Ashworth, prosecuting, said the family who live at a house in Northdown Road, Bideford, went to bed at 11pm on June 2 and were woken by their car alarm at 4.15am.

They checked their two vehicles and went back to bed but realised the house had been burgled when they got up the next day. Some wine, a bottle of milk, and their bags and wallets had been stolen.

Trower and Britton had used their two Lloyds Bank cards to buy £28.50 worth of food and £10 worth of scratchcards at Texaco, vodka at the Coop and Jack Daniels at McColls. Britton also had a second card which had been stolen from a van the day before.

The other offences occurred when he was found with five wraps of heroin in Ilfracombe in April and a knife in the centre of Bideford in May.

Nick Lewin, defending, said Britton suffered a very difficult childhood with both parents being drug addicts and his mother dying of a heroin overdose when he was five.

He has been homeless since his teens but managed to stay out of trouble since 2015 despite having a heroin habit, mental health and living on the streets.