A PROLIFIC burglar who committed more than 100 crimes has avoided jail after apparently turning his life around.

Ronnie Tretton appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced for stealing an £800 watch during a burglary in Leigh.

He had appeared in court in July sporting 100 offences from 38 convictions, dating back 24 years to his first offence in 1995, when he was just ten-years-old.

And despite the court hearing he should be subject to a minimum three-year term in jail - after also admitting to a separate burglary and an attempted burglary - Judge Samantha Leigh praised the 36-year-old for mending his ways and opted to hand him a three year community order instead.

Anthony Abell, mitigating, said: “This is not a man who has been uncooperative. There has been no further offending since the last hearing.

“He has a steady job and has really engaged with the probation service and they think he’s been doing really well.

“He tells me he’s been drug free and is living at a new address and is someone who has a shocking record but made and effort to put that life behind him.”

David Ryan, prosecuting, reminded the court Tretton was subject to a minimum three year term.

He also explained another man received a suspended sentence as part of the attempted burglary and burglary last January.

But speaking to Tretton, Judge Leigh said: “For someone who was so entrenched you have managed what could be considered impossible.

“You have managed to keep away since last July from offending and for someone with with a drug habit, it is a long time.

“You appeared before me previously with a chequered history.

“The first charges of the burglary in Leigh came before me and you were aware it was your last chance to break your habit.

“It is not your fault it became apparent there were other offences dating back to January last year. These had not caught up with police who are inundated and under staffed.

“You did have a Class A drug habit and managed to get off it and hold down a full time and are finally going in the right direction”

The community order means he must complete 90 days of rehabilitation, 200 hours unpaid work and pay £1,250 in compensation.

Tretton, now of Ruskin Road, in Southend, said to the judge as he walked from the dock: “Thank you for this chance you have given me.”