MEAN burglar Matthew Hardy has been locked up after he stole a wedding dress and a couple’s treasured wedding album of photographs.

It happened during a raid on their home while the victims were away on holiday.

Paul and Mary Matthews had to return home from their holiday early when they received the heart-break news that their home in Hazel Grove, Gwersyllt, had been broken into.

Mold Crown Court heard that among the haul were two iPods, two televisions including a large plasma flat-screen, a camcorder, jewellery and other property – including Mrs Matthews’ wedding dress and their wedding photo album which were of great sentimental value, prosecutor Emmalyne Downing, explained.

Hardy, 23,of Bryn End, Ruabon, admitted the burglary in August and faced the prospect of a minimum three year sentence because of his previous convictions.

But Judge John Rogers QC imposed a 32-month prison sentence.

“This was an unpleasant offence for the victims, the judge told him. “You took not only valuable property but also property of great sentimental value as well.”

But he took into account his young age, his guilty plea and the realistic attitude Hardy had adopted.

The court heard the victims went on holiday on August 15 in their camper van. They had to return two days later when they were informed that the burglary had taken place.

An untidy search of their home had been carried out and a number of items taken.

The following month Hardy returned to the property, said his brother had been responsible for the burglary, and offered to pay compensation so his brother would not get into trouble.

But a forensic examination took place and police found his fingerprint on a camera box on the bedroom floor.

Arrested, he initially put forward an alibi and claimed his fingerprint was at the property following his visit there in September.

But he then admitted what he had done.

Catherine Jagger, defending, said Hardy had written a letter to the court in which he set out his regret and remorse. His only explanation was that he had been drinking heavily.

A friend made a suggestion to him and he went along to help, but he accepted his full responsibility.