A BURGLAR fled after being confronted by a group of students – but dropped three laptops as he ran off.

Shaun Hewitt burgled a student house in Morrell Avenue, East Oxford.

He was confronted by the occupants as they returned to the house at about 9.30pm and dropped the laptops.

The four students later found another laptop, two mobile phones, an iPod and a wallet had also been taken.

Hewitt, 33, had previous convictions for 36 offences, including burglary and robbery.

David Rhodes, defending at Oxford Crown Court on Friday, said his client had “been in and out of custody” for the last 20 years and had not “spent a Christmas in the community” for the last 15 years.

He said Hewitt, who had been out of prison for eight weeks when he committed the offence on March 28, had needed money to pay rent.

He said Hewitt had found work on a building site, but an “unscrupulous” boss owed him 10 days’ wages, leaving him in arrears at the Clark’s Row bail hostel in central Oxford.

He said the defendant was worried he would lose his place on drug-rehabilitation courses and breach the terms of his prison licence if he was kicked out of the hostel, so he committed the burglary.

Mr Rhodes said his client was “institutionalised” and that it was a “desperate act of a desperate man”.

Clare Tucker, prosecuting, said Hewitt was confronted by the occupants of the house and told them he had a knife before running off.

Hewitt pleaded guilty to burglary on the basis he was not, in fact, carrying a blade.

Jailing him for two years, Recorder Hodge Malek said the defendant was a “victim of drugs”.

He said: “It ruins people’s live. The most positive step is when you realise it’s time to move to get rid of this problem. I do wish you well because you’re a victim of drugs.”