A BULGARIAN burglar caught by a father and son had only been in the country for eight days and “needed cash”.

When Emil Metodiev raided the Toms’ home in Ladram Road, Thorpe Bay, he wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

Trevor Toms, 62, chased him into the street in his dressing gown, alongside son Adam, 19, who was barefoot.

Neighbours managed to alert police as the pair tracked Metodiev through neighbouring gardens before the burglar was finally nabbed by police.

The prolific criminal, who has a string of previous convictions for theft and burglary in his native Bulgaria, was jailed for 16 months at Basildon Crown Court yesterday.

He had pleaded guilty to one count of burglary at an earlier hearing.

In mitigation, Metodiev told the court he had caught the 11pm train to Thorpe Bay from Tottenham, London, on the night of October 31 because he wanted to be by the seaside.

He claimed he had run out of money because a business associate had failed to repay a debt and so walked around until 6.55am, when he decided to burgle the Toms’s house.

However, Richard Kelly, prosecuting said: “He had only been in the UK for a eight days and had no independent means of income.

“It is not unreasonable to conclude the reason he came to the UK was to commit crime.”

Mrs Toms had got up on the morning of October 31 to find the house had been burgled and items including cards, a handbag and a bracelet had been taken.

The court heard she called to her son Adam who sprinted out the kitchen door and spotted a man running away.

He and his dad chased Metodiev through gardens and over fences before banging on a neighbour’s door and asking them to call the police, who were able to catch him.

Recorder Matthew Lowe praised Adam Toms for his bravery in pursuing Metodiev through the streets in Thorpe Bay and said without his actions the thief might never have been caught.

Judge Lowe said: “It is unlikely that without the brave actions of Mr Toms you would ever had been caught “The fact that the family were home and asleep is an aggravating factor in this case.

“People who are unfortunate enough to have their homes burgled will continue to live with the fear it will happen again.

“I have read the detailed and measured victim impact statement prepared by Denise Toms in which she talks about the anxiety she has been left feeling as a result of your actions.”

After the hearing, the Toms family said they were relieved by the sentence, but mumDenise said the break-in had left her feeling vulnerable in her home own home.

Speaking outside court, the family said: “We are pleased he has been jailed and has not got off scott-free.

“It is quite horrible to hear about all his previous convictions.

“But now he is off the streets and will not be able to do this to anyone else.

“The thing is with burglary, it’s not what they take it is the fear this man has left us with.”

Metodiev will be deported after serving his sentence.