A FORMER soldier who burgled his cousin’s house while she sat down to Christmas dinner with her mother and child tried to spend some of her money in a nearby shop minutes later.

Burnley Crown Court heard Luke Kay, who goes by the alias Luke Pohrebienyk, had turned up at the home of Carina Laney in Blackthorn Lane, Bacup, last Christmas Day asking if he could come in and use Facebook to see photos of his children.

Prosecuting, Julia Longworth said Ms Laney said no and Kay, 36, left the property.

Later that day Ms Laney noticed her purse, handbag and phone charger had gone missing from the kitchen and that someone had accessed the back door.

Ms Longworth said Ms Laney confronted Kay, of Underbank Close, Bacup, who denied taking the items.

However Umar Shahid, from nearby Bacup Convenience Store said Kay had tried to spend a Scottish £10 in the shop and his girlfriend had unsuccessfully tried to make a transaction with a credit card in Ms Laney’s name.

Ms Longworth said Ms Laney reported Kay to the police, telling them she had both Scottish and English notes in her wallet.

During his police interview on December 29 Kay admitted to officers that he had gone to Ms Laney’s house but said he had been invited in to see pictures of his children on Facebook.

Unemployed Kay, who has 71 convictions for 44 offences, pleaded guilty to burglary. He has already been fined £50, with £85 costs and ordered to pay £4.50 compensation and a £30 victim surcharge after admitting to stealing a £4.50 bottle of cider from Bacup Convenience store on Christmas Day,

Defending, Waheed Baber said his client had been a soldier in the British Army between 1999 and 2004 and had completed a number of tours in Afghanistan. He said he was seeking help from the Royal British Legion to help him with the impact those tours have had on him mentally.

Mr Baber said: “There has been no further offending since this offence. He got help from the Royal British Legion and the housing authorities to resolve his housing problems.”

Recorder Neville Biddle gave Kay a 12-month community order, with 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 160 hours unpaid work.