A HOUSEBREAKER who targeted pensioners was caught trying to forced his way into an old woman's home the day after he was released from prison under special Covid–19 measures.

Christopher Wilson, 34, was spotted by the 83-year-old resident's neighbours twice in just 15 minutes trying to break in the back door at the property in Sauchie.

The incident, on May 7, occurred less than 24 hours after Wilson's lawyers successfully responded to an invitation from the Crown to apply for bail for their client.

The accused was remanded in custody in January in relation to a break-in at another 83-year-old woman's home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and being found in a Kirkcaldy street with an "ornamental dagger".

Falkirk Sheriff Court was told that Wilson's lawyers had "received a communication" from the procurator fiscal inviting an application for bail in the light of Covid–19.

Bail was formally granted, unopposed, and the very next day Wilson tried to force his way into the pensioner's detached home in Fairfield, after dressing in high-vis workmen's clothing and driving there, despite being disqualified, in an uninsured van.

Ronnie Hay, prosecuting, said Wilson was filmed by the occupier's neighbours trying to force his way into her home after she had gone out shopping.

Mr Hay said one of the woman's neighbours was working in his shed when he saw Wilson taking the weather bar off her back door with a hammer and crowbar.

He challenged him, and Wilson gave a false name and brazenly claimed he was "fixing" door after a previous break-in.

He left, but returned 15 minutes later and tried again – before being challenged by another neighbour and leaving again.

Police were phoned and Wilson's van, which had been photographed by the neighbours, was found by officers on mobile patrol near Saline, Fife, and Wilson was arrested.

The court heard the initial incident in Kirkcaldy occurred on November 29, 2019, when the elderly female pensioner, who had gone to bed in her West Torbain home, was "startled" by loud banging coming from downstairs at 3am.

Mr Hay said she was understandably too scared to go downstairs to check on the noises at the time, but in the morning found her kitchen door had been smashed and her handbag and its £180 contents were missing.

DNA recovered from blood found spattered on the kitchen wall and worktop was identified as Wilson's.

A week later, on December 6, in Dallas Drive, Kirkcaldy, another elderly householder was woken in the night by "a loud crunching sound".

Mr Hay said the occupier got up, and he saw a torch at the back door and heard a male voice saying: "I want your wallet and I've got a big blade."

Terrified, he ran to his front door and shouted for help.

Again, he found the glass in his back door had been smashed and there was blood on the floor and on a grey throw on his couch from which Wilson's DNA was recovered.

On January 27, at 11.10am Wilson was arrested by police after being seen walking round to the rear of a house in Hendry Road, Kirkcaldy.

He was searched and found in possession of a lock knife, a three-inch sheath knife, a 12-centimetre ornamental-style dagger, and a Stanley knife blade.

Appearing by video link from HMP Low Moss, Wilson, a father of three, described as "a self-employed roofer", of Myrtle Crescent, Kirkcaldy, pleaded guilty to two charges of theft by housebreaking; one of housebreaking with intent to steal; and one of carrying bladed weapons.

He also admitted driving while disqualified, and without insurance.

Solicitor Paul Parker-Smith, defending, said the offences were "drug-related".

Sheriff Derek Hamilton jailed Wilson for 31 months, and banned him from driving for six years and four months.

Referring to the May 7 incident, he said: "It is extraordinary that Mr Wilson, having been invited by the Crown to apply for bail, gets bail, then the next day he commits these offences."