A 20-year-old man pressurised by his drug dealer into burgling a family home in Cheltenham has now moved to Sharpness and turned over a new leaf, a court was told today.

Ryan Palmer was £400 in debt to his dealer and was told he would get hurt if he did not commit the burglary and other crimes, it was claimed.

But since his arrest Palmer has left Cheltenham and moved back in with his family in Sharpness and he has turned his back on drugs and crime, his solicitor said.

Palmer, of Baylands, pleaded guilty to breaking into a house in Eldorado road, Cheltenham, between 18-21 July last year and taking property including mobile phones, cash, a purse and other property.

He asked the court to take into account 18 offences of theft or attempted theft from parked cars.

Judge Jamie Tabor QC said he would put Palmer to the test by deferring sentence for six months to see if he stays out of trouble, saves money for compensation, gets a job and remains clean of drugs.

If Palmer complied with all those requirements he would not receive an immediate jail term, the judge pledged.

He told Palmer he must attend for monthly drug tests until he is sentenced on 31 July.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said that on 19th July the weather was very hot and the family of five living in Eldorado road (number 29) had left a large front window open when they went to bed.

Palmer got in through the open window and stole property from the ground floor, she said.

Palmer's fingerprints were found in the house and he was arrested on 28th October when he admitted the offence but disputed he had taken some of the items the family reported missing.

He said he had discarded much of the loot in a bush around the corner from the house.

Palmer had previous convictions and shortly after he committed the burglary he had been sentenced to two sentences of four weeks imprisonment each for thefts from motor vehicle, the court was told.

Andrew Twomlow, defending, said Palmer was involved with drugs last summer and had accumulated a £400 debt.

"He was simply out of control at this time. But he has now moved back to Sharpness to be with his sister and is reunited with his family.

“He has the prospect of work in the Sharpness shipyard and he seems to be a changed person.

"He has distanced himself from Cheltenham and all his previous associates, the drug problem which gave rise to all these offences has been resolved thanks to the intervention of the prison sentences he has served."

Judge Tabor told Palmer that burglary in Cheltenham is currently so rife that immediate prison was necessary to deter offenders. But he said he was prepared to give Palmer the chance to prove he has now changed.