A burglar was jailed for five and a half years for breaking into several homes across Hertfordshire.

Arthur McDonagh was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Monday for forcing his way into and ransacking houses in Abbots Langley, Radlett and Hitchin.

The 24-year-old was with another man when he broke into a house in Langley Lane, Abbots Langley, using a crow bar or pole.

Jewellery, which had a high sentimental as well as financial value, was stolen.

The court heard the home was empty at the time, but the burglars were disturbed when the owner's son returned home.

Thirteen days later, on August 2, he was alone when he forced his way into a house in Woodfield Road, Radlett, again taking jewellery.

Then, on 21 September, McDonagh ransacked a house in The Chilterns, Hitchin making off with personal property, including a watch with sentimental value. He also took a high value Mercedes from the home.

McDonagh, of The Hawthorns, Maple Cross, appeared for sentence through a video link from Peterborough jail.

He had pleaded guilty to three burglaries, theft and driving while disqualified. He had previous convictions for burglary, robbery and dangerous driving.

Mustaphe Hakme, defending, said: "He attended school until he was 13. He was making poor progress and it was decided he should learn a trade. His grandfather taught him to be a landscape gardener.

"All was going well until 2009 to 2010 when he fell into bad company. He has fallen down the slippery slope of offending.

"Matters were made worse in 2012 when his mother took her own life. He has never been able to come to terms with it. She was a long term sufferer of depression.

"He found himself in and out of prison. He is ashamed of his record."

Judge Stephen warned jailed him for five and a half years and banned him from driving for seven years, ordering him to take an extended retest.

He told him: "Dwelling house burglary is a very serious offence. It is highly distressing for victims. You violate their privacy and take property of sentimental value."

He said he had been sent to youth custody in 2014 for a series of burglaries, but had not been deterred, telling him he was a "prolific burglar."