A PROLIFIC thief turned up late to be sentenced at court — because he had been burgled.

William White was due to appear at Bolton Crown Court after pleading guilty to committing a burglary during a wedding at Bolton School.

But his solicitor, Nicholas Ross, apologised to Judge Graeme Smith for White’s lateness, explaining that his client had to deal with aftermath of a burglary at his home.

When White finally arrived in the courtroom Judge Smith told him: “It’s not nice having your personal space invaded, is it?

“I don’t know if you’ve had things taken, that’s not nice either.

“That’s what’s happened to you — that’s what you have been doing to other people for years.”

The court heard how 45-year-old White had sneaked into the Chorley New Road school during a wedding taking place there on August 10, 2018.

When challenged by a member of staff, White claimed to be looking for the toilets but he managed to steal car keys from a handbag left in a locker room.

White and his accomplice Gemma Higginson, climbed into a Ford Fiesta and drove off from the staff car park.

The theft led to a 26km police pursuit after officers spotted the vehicle driving north on the M6 at Preston at 11.25pm, Maria Brannan prosecuting, told the court.

Three vehicles chased the car, which came off the motorway onto the A6 towards Garstang, but efforts to box it in and bring it to a halt failed.

"The driver drove onto a nearside pavement and verge and drove away," said Miss Brennan.

On unlit, narrow country roads White hurtled along at up to 86mph heading towards Forton and even continued after tyres were punctured by a stinger, before finally coming to a stop when he turned into a cul-de-sac in the village of Hambleton.

White and Higginson, clutching a small dog, were arrested.

Higginson has since been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting aggravated vehicle taking.

White, of Hawksley Street, Horwich, pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated vehicle taking and having no insurance.

The court heard that he is a prolific thief with 53 convictions for 112 offences, including multiple burglaries.

But Mr Ross said that, for the last 12 months, he has not offended after freeing himself from entrenched drug addiction.

"He feels more positive about the future," he said, adding that White had stolen the Fiesta in order to travel to Garstang, where he was living at the time.

Judge Smith sentenced him to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered that he be electronically tagged with an 8pm to 7am curfew for three months.

He must also participate in 20 days of rehabilitation activities and was banned from driving for two years.

"Exceptionally I am satisfied that this is a sentence which should be suspended because you are making significant progress and I wish to see that progress maintained rather than you going backwards which it likely to happen if you go into custody now," the judge told him.