A Carlisle man who was described as “off his face” on Valium burgled a family’s home while children were inside.

The city’s crown court heard 50-year-old David McMillan's break-in on May 16 had caused massive upset to the victims.

Prosecutor Charles Brown said a female occupant heard somebody approach her Borland Avenue address at around 5pm and go upstairs. She was downstairs with her children.

"She thought it was her partner coming home from work," said Mr Brown.

"That person had been upstairs for around 10 minutes before coming downstairs and left the house.

"She looked out and saw it wasn't her partner, it was a stranger – Mr McMillan.”

A short time later he went into the garden of a property on the same street.

He was seen to be "rooting about," unsuccessfully tried a door and was “barely able to stand” when arrested at the scene by police.

McMillan, of Newlaithes Avenue, Carlisle, denied offending but was picked out by his victims in an identification procedure.

He later admitted burglary and attempted burglary.

Of the actual break-in, during which he had snatched £10 cash, Mr Brown said of the householder: "She was very upset."

The court heard McMillan had previously been a "prolific burglar" during the 1980s, although a judge remarked he had a "quite surprising" criminal record which "rather runs out of steam."

McMillan had taken "about 40 Valium tablets" and had very little recollection of committing the May crimes.

"To use the colloquial, he is completely off his face," said Jeff Smith, defending.

“Quite frankly he wasn't in any condition to burgle anywhere."

Mr Smith told the court McMillan "is capable of being rehabilitated and has been rehabilitated (previously)."

He added: "I think I can say with some confidence the defendant also understands the impact these offences will have had upon the victims.

"He fully accepts he was responsible for causing that impact."

Recorder Neville Biddle suspended an eight-month jail term for two years.

He also imposed 20 days' rehabilitation for crimes which, he noted, “were extremely frightening” for the victims.