A BURGLAR who smashed his way into a couple's Cumbrian home and stole an honour bestowed upon the male householder by the Queen has been jailed for almost four years.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how Sevi Conley and accomplice Anthony Robert Padgett, both aged 23, travelled to Kirkby Stephen on a criminal expedition on March 20.

They broke into a house before snatching personal and sentimental property and jewellery worth more than £7,000. These items included a medal the male householder received from the Queen having been made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of his distinguished RAF service. The man's wife, who discovered the burglary, spoke of being "extremely cross and shocked".

Conley, however, came unstuck after insulting a police community support officer who knew him at Skipton railway station while making his way to Cumbria.

An investigation began and the burglars were apprehended as they prepared to leave a train at the end of their return journey. Their loot, including the RVO medal, was recovered and returned to the owners.

Conley admitted burglary, and also passing a fake £20 note in York last September.

Recorder Paul Taylor jailed Conley, of Aire Street, Cross Hills, near Keighley, for 47 months. "You stole one of the most precious items that the victim's husband had," Recorder Taylor said of the honour. "It was probably one of the proudest days of this man's life and you stole the emblem, the keepsake of that."

*Padgett, who also admitted burglary, failed to attend today's court hearing.