A heartless burglar who stole war medals belonging to an Army veteran has been jailed after he was arrested just moments before trying to sell them.

Daniel Wilson, 18, of Pattiswick Square, Basildon, broke into the home of Kevin Kemp and his wife Carol in search of anything worth money.

After ransacking the property, in Beatty Lane, Vange, he stole Mr Kemp's military medals, including a long-serving Army medal and a service medal from Northern Ireland, as well as gold jewellery, a coin collection, a nineties Sony video camera and irreplaceable tapes of family scenes.

The couple also believe their two dogs were hurt in the raid.

Carolyn Gardiner, prosecuting, said: “A pizza was taken from the fridge as well as some milk, which was thrown outside. The police believe that was used to entice the dogs.

“Mr Kemp also found a broom was left bent up out of shape and that might have been used to fight the dogs.”

Wilson admitted two counts of burglary during an appearance at Basildon Crown Court.

A day after the burglary on Wednesday, July 29, Wilson raided another home in Gardiners Close, Basildon.

He smashed a window, which cost £900 to replace, and took computer games, blu-ray DVDs, a sat nav and jewellery.

Police found his fingerprints on a can of fizzy drink which he dumped nearby.

Wilson, who is due to become a dad for the first time, was arrested while walking put of Cash Converters, in Basildon town centre.

Ms Gardiner added: "He was with his mother and at one point, a man was approached and shown a blue jewellery box which was open.

“He was seen offering to sell it to the public. He went inside Cash Converters. He was arrested when he came out. He was holding a drawstring bag containing the coin and war medals that had come from the first burglary.”

Judge Jonathan Black sentenced him to two years and five months in a young offenders institution for each charge, to run concurrently.

Wilson was also ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge and a £109 court charge.

Mark Savage, mitigating, said: “Wilson is a young man who, for much of his life, has been in care with social services, who should provide a safety net for young people.

“But this safety net was pulled from under him. In fact, Wilson and his siblings were awarded compensation for negligence.

“He is clearly a very troubled young man who has resorted to drink and drugs to cope with his past.

“He said his behaviour was scummy and wishes the victims to know he is sickened and appalled by his behaviour.”