A BOOZE thief has been warned to expect a lengthy prison sentence – after he admitted his third house burglary.

William Gifford, 36, stole £40-worth of alcohol from a barn in Minety on September 19.

Appearing before Swindon Crown Court via video link from Bullingdon prison on Friday, the Upper Minety man pleaded guilty to burglary.

That put him at risk of minimum sentencing rules for so-called third strike burglars. Guidelines say those convicted of a third dwelling house burglary should expect three years’ imprisonment unless it would be unjust.

Judge Jason Taylor QC ordered a pre-sentence report but warned Gifford: “You have to understand...it’s going to be inevitable custody and custody of some length.” He will be sentenced on November 19.

In June, Gifford was jailed for 12 weeks when he appeared before the same Basingstoke district judge who had just days earlier given him a suspended prison sentence.

He was originally before the court on June 3 when he admitted four counts of burglary and was given a 16 week suspended sentence.

A day later, he stole two boxes of beer from a neighbour’s doorstep in Minety.

Police rounded him up and put him before the court on June 5. Sending him inside for 12 weeks, District Judge Anthony Calloway said: “You had your chance on Wednesday and you blew it.”

The Minety man, who suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and depression, was said to have had a history of alcoholism.

He had been clean for around eight-and-a-half months, thanks to the help of a local Alcoholics Anonymous group.

But around a week earlier he had been verbally abused by someone after apologising to the man – a symptom of his Asperger’s.

The incident had seen him spiral back into alcohol abuse.