A BURGLAR who ransacked a betting shop causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage, has been jailed for 18 months.

David Lawrence fled empty-handed despite using an angle grinder to try and cut his way into the bookies' safe.

The teenager will only have to serve an extra three months behind bars because he is already serving a custodial sentence for other matters.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court the 19-year-old broke into Coral, in Victoria Road, on the night of Friday, December 1 last year.

When staff arrived for work the next morning they found the premises had been ransacked.

The four gaming machines were damaged, along with the betting terminals, and the screen for showing racing was smashed.

In the back office an angle grinder had been used to try to break into the safe.

"Considerable effort was made to peel back several layers of security on the safe which, in fact, held its own," Mr Meeke said.

"It did not disgorge any of the takings of the gaming machines or the general cash takings.

"It is clear the burglar gave up in disgust having got absolutely nothing from what would have been several hours of grinding away.

"What makes it rather more serious is the damage to property such as the TV, safe and alarm system amounting to £20,600."

He said Lawrence was caught after his DNA was found on an empty drink can which had been found in the betting shop.

Mr Meeke said the defendant was spoken to in April at HMP Reading, where he was being held for other matters, and he refused to comment.

Since the break-in he said the teenager had been jailed firstly by magistrates in Southampton for burglary and then at the city's crown court for affray.

Lawrence, of no fixed address, admitted the burglary.

Mark Ashley, defending, said Lawrence could offer no explanation for committing the offence.

His client had had a difficult start to life and had already spent four years of his life in custody.

He was virtually unemployable as he had no qualifications but hoped to take educational courses while in custody.

"He is a young man who realises now he has got to change or he is going to spend increasingly long periods of time in custody," Mr Ashley added.

Jailing Lawrence, Judge Douglas Field said: "Over the last six years you have accumulated an appalling record for a young man of 19."

He ruled the sentence should run concurrently with the existing jail term.