A CHRISTMAS Eve crook was chased and detained by a brave couple who disturbed him after he burgled their home and unwrapped presents.

John Martin Porter, 39, forced his way into their Shaw Street house in Maryport on December 24 while occupants Lee Sheeran and Victoria Bell were out finishing their festive shopping.

They returned and heard noises upstairs.

Gerard Rogerson, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court: “Mr Sheeran ran upstairs and at the same time Miss Bell, who was standing by the front door with her hand on the handle, opened the door and saw a male landing in front of her having jumped from an upstairs bedroom window.”

That was Porter, who fled.

“Miss Bell gave chase. She said she tried her hardest to detain him. She was clinging on with all her might,” said Mr Rogerson.

“She describes how she got to a nearby shop where her partner caught up with her. They both managed to detain him (Porter).

“He was struggling, kicking out and trying to get away. Ultimately the two householders restrained him, Mr Sheeran sitting on his chest and Miss Bell sitting on his legs.”

Porter, wearing gloves and carrying two balaclavas, had unwrapped Christmas presents while inside their home, rifled through a handbag and entered other rooms.

Porter, of Milburn Street, Workington, admitted burglary. Judge Nicholas Barker heard he had more than 100 previous offences on his record, including scores of theft crimes and also two previous house break-ins which triggered a three-year minimum prison sentence.

Jamie Baxter, defending, said Porter had relapsed into drug use while battling a life-changing neuromuscular disease.

Giving Porter a discount for his guilty plea, Judge Barker jailed him for 876 days, and praised the householders’ bravery.

“They were no doubt fired by anger and indignity that you had broken into their home on Christmas Eve and begun to open their Christmas presents,” the judge told him.

“A mean and unpleasant offence likely to cause significant upset for the pair of them.”