A BURGLAR who broke into homes in Newport and Rogerstone - on one occasion using an axe to get in before stealing a deactivated antique revolver - will serve a total of five years and 10 months in prison.

Ian Brown, 40, committed the burglaries late last year and in February, while serving a 16-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, having carried out three similar offences in the Newport area last summer.

Judge Richard Williams sentenced Brown, of no fixed abode, to a total of four-and-a-half years in prison for the two most recent burglaries, and ruled that the 16-month suspended sentence will be served in full and consecutively, five years and 10 months in all.

Judge Williams said the stolen revolver particularly concerned him "because of its attraction to those who wish to commit crimes involving firearms or imitation firearms".

Brown had already been arrested and placed in custody having failed to meet other conditions of the suspended sentence.

He had already pleaded guilty to the Newport burglary, and followed suit with the Rogerstone burglary today, with a trial pending.

Judge Williams was told by prosecuting counsel Jeffrey Jones that Brown broke into a house in the Gaer area of Newport between December 21 last year and January 9.

The property - empty as its elderly owner was in hospital - was ransacked and a World War Two-issue gas mask, a miner's lamp, a clock, a compass set, and a cheque book were among the items taken.

A spanner found on the sofa was subsequently found to have Brown's DNA on it.

On January 10, Brown tried to cash a £400 cheque from the stolen cheque book, payable to himself, at the HSBC bank in Chepstow Road, Newport.

Police officers identified him from the bank's CCTV system.

On February 4 Brown broke into a house in The Uplands, Rogerstone, using an axe, subsequently found embedded in an outer door by the property's 85-year-old owner.

Brown went into the sleeping owner's bedroom and stole a deactivated 1900 Webley 455 revolver from a wall mounting.

Mr Jones told the court the owner heard a noise during the night but thought it came from the street. He also got up to close his bedroom door. It was only the next morning that he discovered the burglary.

In a victim statement the man's nephew said his uncle is a changed and more nervous person since the burglary.

Brown was arrested on March 23 with some £20 worth of cannabis on him, which he said was for his own use.

None of the items stolen during the burglaries have been found.

Brown's previous burglaries took place in July and August last year.

Defence counsel Hashim Salman said Brown had not been in trouble until then, but had become homeless for the first time and lived and slept rough.

He began to misuse drugs - amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy - and his life "spiralled totally out of control", the burglaries having been acquisitive offences, "to fund his lifestyle at the time".

Mr Salman said Brown has begun to address mental health issues whilst in prison, and added: "He asks me to convey to the court, the victims and the victims' families that he is deeply ashamed of what he did and he apologises."