A PROLIFIC criminal offered police a £500 bribe when they tried to arrest him for burglary.

Jai Stead, 33, of no fixed address, was caught breaking into a home in Southend – one of a string of burglary and drugs offences he admitted before Basildon Crown Court.

Charlotte Davison, prosecuting, told the court Stead’s rucksack was stuffed with £19,000 of designer watches when he was arrested on February 2.

He tried to flee the officers, then offered the arresting officer £500 to let him go.

The court was told Stead also burgled a house in Hornby Avenue, Westcliff, on January 31, smashing a glass panel in the back door, then reaching in and undoing the lock.

When the owner returned from work at 1pm with her 20-monthold baby she found Stead had ransacked every room in the house and taken jewellery and cameras worth £895. Stead was identified from blood left at the scene.

When Stead was arrested two days later, he had 7.4gms of cannabis, 2.7gms of cocaine and a flick-knife on him.

His bag also contained a £2,000 Rolex watch, a Breitling watch worth £2,000, a £3,000 Omega watch, a Luminor watch worth £5,000 and a Ulysse Nardin watch worth £7,000.

He told police another burglar had asked him to look after the watches until they found someone to sell them too.

Police later found the watches had been stolen from a house in Alexandra Road, Southend a few days earlier. The court heard Stead had previous convictions for robbery and burglary dating back to the Nineties.

His lawyer, Matthew Bone, told the court Stead’s life of crime had begun at a young age.

Last year, he had met a new partner and tried to change his ways.

The Southend burglarY was carried out after the relationship broke down and he was on the run from police over another matter.

Mr Bone said: “My client accepts these are serious. He has an unenviable list of previous convictions.

“He has said to me, ‘I am 33 and I have had enough of this life and want to change.’ “He had a difficult and traumatic childhood and as an adult, has suffered substance abuse, bereavement and instability and recently has been homeless.

“He fully appreciates the harm he caused to the woman whose house he burgled and feels awful about invading her privacy.”

Stead admitted burglary, handling stolen goods, possession of cocaine, cannabis and an illegal bladed article, going equipped to steal and resisting a police officer.

He was given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.