A CAREER criminal who has spent two thirds of his life behind bars is back in prison after asking a judge to lock him up again.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how bungling burglar Nicholas Birch, 45, who has amassed 142 offences since 1984 and appeared in court 35 times, has become so institutionalised he cannot cope with the outside world.

Birch, pictured right, admitted two dwelling house burglaries and asked for another nine similar offences to be taken into consideration by Judge Samuel Wiggs.

The court was told how Birch, one of Dorset’s most prolific offenders, had broken into a house at Hurn Road, Christchurch, on October 29 this year and committed another burglary at Grove Road, Bournemouth, just two days later.

His valuable haul included a £1,000 emerald and diamond ring, other jewellery, a computer and camera. Birch was caught after being disturbed at the first property and jumping from an upstairs window.

Forensic investigators linked him to the scene and stolen property was recovered from his grey Ford Escort parked near the Hurn Road address. After his arrest, Birch, of no fixed abode, assisted police in solving another nine crimes, including a burglary dating back to 2003.

Defending, Robert Griffiths said: “With a record like that there is little I can say; it was drink, drugs, a fall-out with his girlfriend and he found himself depressed. He didn’t even need the money; he was working as a forklift driver at the time. He has spent about 30 years in prison – two thirds of his life – and he wants to go back there. He is somewhat institutionalised.”

Mr Griffiths added: “Prison won’t work – the only thing it will do is keep him out of circulation but he wants to say sorry to his victims.”

Sentencing Birch to three years in jail, Judge Wiggs told him: “You know very well what has to happen.”

Speaking after the case, DC Symon Clarke from the Bournemouth burglary squad said: “The sentence reflects the seriousness of these offences but also shows that sentences will be reduced if offenders, like Birch, assist us in clearing up crimes.”