A hapless burglar has been sentenced after being caught red handed by a photographer.

On Friday Thomas McCarthy, 19, of Merlin Crescent, Edgware, appeared at Harrow Crown Court where he was sentenced to 16 months in a young offenders institute.

This sentenced included punishment for his role in a burglary where a witness photographed him leaving the scene as the victim entered it.

On October 24, 2011, the victim, who is in her 80s, left her Edgware home in the morning.

While she was away a witness saw a group of young people hanging around near her house.

The witness then saw one of the men go down the alley at the side of the house.

This man then broke into the building and so the witness started taking photographs.

As this was happening, the elderly victim returned to her home and entered the front door just as the burglar, McCarthy, was leaving through the side door.

The victim discovered that her bedroom had been searched and that jewellery, and £800 cash, had been taken so she called the police.

The witness gave the photographs to the police who circulated them to all officers.

Later a group of youths similar to those in the pictures were spotted by police in Gaskarth Road, Burnt Oak.

One of the men was McCarthy who was arrested and pleaded guilty to the burglary.

DC Alan Horsfall of Barnet CID said: “The witness was only just in the country and did not know about calling police, but they did have the quickness of mind to take photographs of what was happening.

“This provided the evidence that allowed us to quickly identify, arrest and charge McCarthy.

“This case underlines both the importance of making sure our property is secure and the need to look out for each other.”