A SERIAL burglar, who was bidding to go straight, claims he was driven back to crime by Universal Credit.

Peter Everall, who has a son with motor neurone disease, was left to survive on child benefit payments when his Universal Credit was stopped, Burnley Crown Court was told.

He has 138 previous convictions for breaking into homes or businesses, dating back to 1985, the court heard.

But gambling addict Everall insisted he had been trying to reform and had later secured employment with Haslingden-based Solomon Commercial.

Defence counsel Jon Close said when his client was left destitute, with a disabled son in the house, he turned back “to the only thing he knew”.

Prosecutor Karen Brooks had earlier told the court how Everall had ransacked two vending machines, causing damage totalling £2,500, after sneaking into Whitworth-based Anglo Technology.

He also broke into St James CE Primary in Darwen and tried to force his way into All Saints Primary in Clayton-le-Moors, around the same time.

Arrested at the time, he acknowledged that he was experiencing some financial difficulties and claimed that breaking into schools was a “victimless” crime as they were “government-run buildings”.

Everall, of Hud Rake, Haslingden, pleaded guilty to two offences of burglary and one of attempted burglary.

Judge Philip Parry said: “I’m going to defer sentence. I don’t know whether I’m mad or whether I’m being fair and it’s the right thing to to.”

The judge deferred sentence until March 18, and told the defendant he would reconsider his position then.

He told the 43-year-old he must not offend again, comply with the conditions of an existing prison licence and secure employment again.

Everall was warned he was potentially facing a two-year prison sentence for the offences he had carried out.

Judge Parry added: “You have got a lot to lose, family-wise, if you blow this.”

In a letter read out to the court, one of his managers at Solomon, Grace Smith, said the feedback they had received regarding Everall had been “brilliant”.

Colleagues say he was eager to learn the job and “very polite” and she said the company wanted him to contact them concerning future employment opportunities.