AN adopted son who burgled his parents’ country home while they were on holiday and squandered thousands of pounds of the proceeds on his gambling addiction has been jailed for three years.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how Nicholas Barton, 23, had set fire to the property, in the secluded grounds of a grade II listed mansion, and “trashed” it, leaving a £4,000 trail of destruction.

Barton admitted burglary at Hurn Court, an exclusive gated development near Bournemouth airport on January 20 this year, three fraud charges and criminal damage.

Sadie Rizzo, prosecuting, said Linda and Allan Barton had been in South Africa when their adopted son from Richmond Park Road, Bournemouth, broke in, forced a safe open and stole a credit card and cheque books.

Nicholas Barton used two of his father’s cheques to obtain £6,000 which he frittered away at a Bournemouth casino. He also attempted to cash a fraudulent cheque for £16,000 from his mother’s bank account.

Allan Barton became suspicious when he tried to use his credit card on holiday but payment was declined. He contacted neighbours who said the family’s car had been driven in their absence.

After exchanging several text messages with their wayward son and offering to help him, the Bartons returned to find their home “a complete mess”.

Miss Rizzo said: “Paint had been daubed over the windows, their carpet had been set on fire and repairs cost £4,075. Mr Barton was deeply upset that their son had done such a thing to them.”

Following his arrest Nicholas Barton told police he had lost his job and was homeless after failing to pay his rent.

He also admitted burgling one of his parents’ neighbours and pleaded guilty to breaking into a Bournemouth snooker hall and stealing £400 from a man who had befriended him.

Nicholas Robinson, defending, said Barton had made full admissions and entered early guilty pleas.

He added: “It was a moment of madness and out of character. He was homeless and had left his foster family on very acrimonious terms. His grievance was that his foster brother had been sent to another home; he deeply regrets what he has done.”

Sentencing Barton, who showed no emotion during the hearing, Recorder Simon Foster told him: “Your parents’ holiday was plainly ruined.

“It has caused them anguish to know who was violating their property.

“To an extent you trashed the place. As soon as you obtained this money you went straight to the casino and spent it. I have no doubt alcohol played a part. These are a dismal set of serious offences for which you must now pay the penalty.”

Allan Barton told the Daily Echo he did not want to discuss his son’s court appearance.