A CANCER patient suffered a “horrendous experience” when she woke to find thieves outside her house.

Margaret Hales was downstairs sleeping at her home in Heath Road, Lymington, when she heard “her blinds rattling” and saw a man “stood on her bench reaching for her window”.

After she told the man, and his accomplice Aaron Phillips, to leave, power tools were stolen from her next door neighbour.

Southampton Crown Court heard that Phillips was later found outside in a parked car with the tools and a petrol can with him.

Phillips, pictured, pleaded guilty to theft, which related to the incident with Mrs Hale, and one count of burglary.

Daniel Sawyer, prosecuting, said Mrs Hales’ neighbour was woken later in the morning of September 8 and saw Phillips, “slouched over the wheel”.

He added: “It took them a while to try and rouse him. When police were called he got agitated but other neighbours came to help until police arrived.”

Mr Sawyer read a victim impact statement from Mrs Hales, 72, which described how being woken to see the thieves outside her house made her feel. It said: “I resent these people for how they made me feel.

“I have lost my confidence just as I was getting it back. This has been a horrendous experience."

The statement added: “This was a truly appalling thing to do. It is a low and cowardly thing to do.

“This will effect me personally for a very long time. They should be ashamed.”

The court heard that Phillips, 35, of Meadow Close, Burley, had 50 previous convictions for charges relating to thefts and had struggled with substance addiction throughout the years.

Richard Martin, mitigating, said Phillips’ offending was “opportunistic” and that he was the driver in the theft and burglary.

He added: “Phillips has a lot of empathy with the victim. He himself has a mother who is ill - quite seriously ill.”

Jailing him for 12 months, Judge Gary Burrell QC said Phillips would “eventually kill himself” if he didn’t sort out his drug habit.

He said: “You are entrenched in a destructive lifestyle. If you carry on like this you will kill yourself.

“You have a lot of life left to live but you will not continue to live it if you carry on like this.

“You need to beat it if you want to life a reasonable life.”