It was a bitter blow for John O'Leary when his partner left him and took their four children with her.

It led to O'Leary falling back into bad habits like taking cocaine, St Albans crown court was told.

It was against that background that O'Leary, 33, found himself part of a burglary team that broke into a house in Elstree on December 11 last year and took cash and jewellery worth £10,000.

But thanks to a sharp eyed neighbour, details of the silver Mazda O'Leary and his accomplices made off in were passed to the police.

And the next day it was spotted in Hatfield.

O'Leary was arrested as officers saw him approach the car and the keys to the ignition were found on him.

He told the officers: "I bought it from a couple of lads last night."

It was a lie and yesterday O'Leary, of Carmelite Road, Harrow, appeared for sentence after admitting one charge of burgling the house in Alwyn Close, Elstree, during the daytime on December 11 last year while the occupier was out.

The court heard O'Leary had a list of previous convictions, including two burglaries.

Judge Andrew Bright QC, hearing the case, was told he hadn't seen his four children since February 2013 after his partner left him.

As a result, he had fallen back into drug taking and began using cocaine and ran up a drug debt.

It was the reason he had taken part in the break-in, the court was told.

Judge Bright jailed him for 29 months.