A serial burglar who went on a 17 day crime spree in July after being given early release from prison has been sent back to jail.

Martin Murray took advantage of this summer's heatwave to carry out a string of walk-in raids on homes and businesses in which he stole money, handbags, and jewellery.

He broke into a holiday home in Ilfracombe through a half open stable door as the mother and daughter who lived there were resting upstairs.

He went on a spending spree using four stolen bank cards and run up bills of £421.68 within minutes at local shops and a Bargain Booze store.

Over the next week he broke into a hairdressers' shop, a pub and the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple where he stole rum, cash, cards, and a charity collecting tin.

Murray's thieving started in July within days of him being released early on a home detention curfew less than nine months into a two year jail sentence for previous burglaries.

He was released in Kent and burgled a house in Cliff Road, Strood, and a nearby building site before moving to Devon, where he has spent much of his life.

Murray, aged 49, of Gould Road, Barnstaple, admitted burglary and asked for six more offences of burglary, handling and fraud to be considered.

He was jailed for two years and five months by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court, who told him he had to impose a mandatory sentence because he is a 'three strike burglar'.

Judge Evans said: “Those living in the burgled properties were left feeling insecure in their own homes.”

Joss Ticehurst, prosecuting, said all the offences happened in July this year when Murray was on prison licence and a home detention curfew.

He stole £500 cash, jewellery, and a safe in the Strood raid. The owner found the jewellery in a local shop where he had sold it and the safe was dumped but the money was never recovered.

He dumped the handbag after the raid on a house at Mill Head, Ilfracombe on July 22 but took four bank cards and carried on using them until the bank stopped them and contacted the owner, who had no realised they had been burgled until that point.

Murray went on to steal a bag from a hair salon three days later, rum from the bar of the Queens Theatre on July 27, and the contents of the till and charity and tip boxes at a pub in Barnstaple on July 29.

Emmi Wilson, defending, said Murray grew up in care and has spent his life in and out of prison. He is now determined to sort out a drug problem which has led much of his offending.

She said he had been released early in Rochester on a home detention curfew but had not received the support he needed from probation.