A BOY who stumbled across a burglary at his primary school helped police catch a serial criminal who targeted classrooms.

The pupil, aged 11, disturbed Nicholas James and an unknown accomplice as they were helping themselves to a teacher’s belongings.

The pair fled, but the boy successfully picked out 32-year-old James at an identity parade.

The offence took place at North Kidlington Primary School on January 10 last year, just minutes before James burgled nearby Gosford Hill Secondary School, and five days after he had targeted Cherwell School, in North Oxford.

James, who has 36 previous convictions, appeared for sentencing at Oxford Crown Court yesterday having earlier admitted three counts of burglary and one charge of stealing a car.

Prosecutor Joanne Sear said the crime spree began at Cherwell School on January 5 when James walked on to the site after school time and stole car keys belonging to trainee teacher Stephanie Murrell.

She went to leave at about 6pm but found her Volkswagen Fox was no longer in the car park.

A digital camera and wallet had also been taken from her handbag.

On January 10, James and an unknown man entered North Kidlington Primary School in the late afternoon and took a rucksack belonging to deputy headteacher Gary Kemp.

The bag contained two laptops, an iPod, wallet, car keys, house keys and photographs of his family.

Miss Sear said: “The two burglars were disturbed in their actions by a pupil, then aged 11.

“He saw both of the burglars and picked out Mr James at an ID parade.”

Last night Mr Kemp said: “I’m grateful that he’s been caught and grateful that one of our pupils was able to positively identify him.”

James’ offending culminated later that day at Gosford Hill Secondary School, where he made off with 13 laptops valued at £4,472.

Graham Bennett, defending, said James, who has nine previous burglaries on his record, is desperate to seek help for a drug addiction.

He said: “The defendant would say that he has had an entrenched drug habit over the years that has affected his view about his behaviour.

“That this is a turning point in his life is how he would put it, that if Your Honour were to give him an opportunity to respond to treatment he would respond to that and wish to be able to turn over a new leaf.”

Judge Anthony Kind said he would reluctantly adjourn sentencing until March 5 for the preparation of a report into the suitability of a residential drug-rehabilitation order.

He remanded James in custody and warned him that jail was still “almost inevitable”.