A Goldilocks burglar broke into empty holiday homes at Saunton and Welcombe, slept in the beds, and then moved on during a two week walk around the South West Coast Path.

Gary Dakin was homeless and broke into three houses in Cornwall and two in Devon because he was in search of food and shelter.

He had a coffee at one house, apple juice at another, and ready meals or tinned food at the others as he wandered the coast path in December.

His adventure ended when he broke into a holiday home in Saunton Sands, near Braunton, on New Year’s Day which had a remotely controlled security camera.

The owner was able to watch him on a laptop as Dakin sat down to a meal in the kitchen. The police were alerted and Dakin was arrested at the scene.

He admitted breaking into the house and to carrying out identical raids in Fore Street, Marazion; Sunny Lane, Sennan; New Road, Boscastle, all in Cornwall, and Welcombe Mouth, near Bideford, Devon.

Dakin is originally from Norwich but had been living with a partner in Cornwall and became homeless when they split up.

Dakin, aged 60, formerly of Bullard Road, Norwich, admitted one count of burglary and asked for four more to be taken into consideration.

He was jailed for 10 months, suspended for 18 months and ordered to go on a 26 session thinking skills course and do 15 days of rehabilitation activities by Judge Paul Cook at Exeter Crown Court.

Dakin was liable to receive a mandatory sentence of three years as a ‘three strike burglar’ but the judge chose not to impose it because of the unusual circumstances of the case.

He told him:” You were homeless and had nowhere to live but rather than seeking help to manage the situation, you broke into homes to sleep in and to make yourself meals. I bear in mind you were seeking shelter.”

William Hunter, prosecuting, said the owner of a holiday home in Saunton contacted the police at 5pm on New Year’s Day after seeing an intruder on the remotely monitored camera.

Dakin was picked up and admitted using a screwdriver to get in and smashing windows in some of the other houses.

Ian Graham, defending, said Dakin had been a prolific burglar when he was younger but only had two convictions since 2000. He committed these offences because his relationship with his partner broke down.

He said: “He was homeless and running out of money. He was walking the coastal path and falling back on along the way on going into empty houses to seek food and shelter. His intrusion was minimalist.”