A couple had been left devastated when their drug addict son stole property from them while they were on holiday in America.

The son, former soldier Andrew Michael Williams, 45, of no fixed address but from Flint, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after he admitted burglary, theft and fraud offences.

He took sentimental pieces of jewellery and other irreplaceable items including a rare Penny Black stamp valued at £2,000 which the father had treasured for nearly 50 years.

Judge Niclas Parry said that Williams had been “a career burglar” for decades and had previously served lengthy periods of custody, which had not deterred him.

On this occasion, he had committed “mean and despicable offences against your own.”

Despite years of trying to support the defendant  - probably since he was aged about 14 – his now elderly parents had never given up “attempting to love and support you.”

No doubt against their better judgement they allowed him to live in their home while they were on holiday.

They made it clear where he could and could not go and did their best to guard their bedroom. But he entered and stole jewellery.

A large amount of property – including his parents’ Jeep – had not been recovered.

The defendant had previous convictions for 43 offences.

Judge Parry said that the latest offences were a serious breach of trust where high value items, which were also of great sentimental value, had been stolen.

Prosecutor David Mainstone told how the defendant’s father Frederick Williams, 76, and his mother, had allowed him to stay after his release from a long prison sentence.

In July they went on holiday to America and locked the bedroom, and made it clear in no un-certain terms where he could and could not go.

But a large quantity of items were taken.

He admitted the theft of a Fender guitar, cash, a Penny Black stamp, computer tablets, a pressure washer, mobile phone and other property from Rock Cottage in Northop Road, Flint, in July.

Williams also admitted stealing jewellery during a burglary at the master bedroom of the property, and stealing a blue Jeep from outside.

He also admitted four charges of fraud after he sold the guitar, a metal detector, a power washer, barometer, a Kindle and a pair of binoculars at a Queensferry pawn shop after posing as the owner.

Police recovered three stolen items after the father searched a bag and found some receipts.

In a victim impact statement, the father described his son as “sick” and said that he had been left devastated by what had happened.

He could not believe it when he returned home to find his property stripped bare of all valuable items.

A number of the stolen items he had for more than 40 years and were irreplaceable.

He told how he felt that his son had “let him down” and that he could never trust him again.

Defending barrister Oliver King said that his client was ashamed after he had betrayed the trust of his parents.

He had been in the grip of cocaine and he had acted without thinking of the consequences.

The defendant had pleaded guilty at an early stage and had shown contrition and remorse.

His life had been blighted by cocaine and he had committed inquisitive crime to fund that addiction.

There had been periods of time in his life when he was off drugs when he had led a productive life.

He had served in The Third Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Gulf War.

The defendant had served his country, but when he returned to the grip of drugs he went out of control.

“He has spent the last 15 years in and out of prison and that realisation has made him really determined this time to sort himself out and turn his life around,” said Mr King.

Following sentencing, District Inspector Andrew Griffiths said: “Williams is a prolific offender with a track record of burglary so today’s sentence is,  I’m sure, reassuring for his latest victims and the communities of Flintshire which is now a far safer place with Williams behind bars for a significant period.”