A burglar who has been spared a mandatory three-year jail term tried to break into a house just weeks after being given the chance.

Alan Aldous, 24, was put on a suspended sentence in April after a judge ruled it would be unjust to impose the three-year jail term, even though it was his 23rd house burglary.

But, just four weeks later, Aldous was caught on CCTV trying to get in to the house of an old man who was in hospital.

And when he was caught he gave a story about trying to look for work and being concerned that the windows needed repairing.

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting told Swindon Crown Court, that another elderly resident of Honeyhill, Royal Wootton Bassett, saw him on the afternoon of Friday, May 9.

"He was observed by a neighbour of the victim to be asking for gardening work," she said.

"As Your Honour knows it is a common ploy of those looking to commit burglaries, particularly those targeting the elderly."

He was seen walking round the victim's house and when he returned from hospital was told about the suspicious behaviour.

"Fortunately he had a fairly sophisticated CCTV system. When they examined it he was seen in the vicinity for seven minutes trying windows without success," said Ms Hingston.

When he was arrested he said he was looking for gardening work and was looking to see if he could offer to repair damage to the windows.

Aldous, of The Lawns, Royal Wootton Bassett, pleaded guilty to attempted burglary.

In April he was put on an 18-month jail term suspended for two years after admitting burgling the same house twice in ten days.

He was caught when he tried to sell some of the proceeds to a second hand shop where the owner recognised the items as belonging to a friend's mum.

Despite having 21 burglaries on his record a judge ruled it was unjust to jail him as they had been committed when he was much younger.

Mike Pulsford, defending, said his client realised he was going to jail and asked the court to consider the total length he would receive. He said he had been in custody on remand before being sentenced in April and was having to wait before any benefits payment came through.

"He wanted to get back in to work as a handyman, the trouble is other people's houses are a magnet to Mr Aldous," he said.

"He knows he has just been a fool, there is no other word for it."

Jailing him Recorder Stephen Climie said: "You are sensible enough to appreciate the opportunity you have thrown back in the court's face can't be simply left and not marked by a sentence of imprisonment."

He jailed him for nine months for the new offence and, as attempted burglary does not count in the three strikes rules, added it to the 18 months' suspended sentence making a total of two years and three months.