A dozy serial burglar was caught after leaving a trail of Corn Flakes from the scene of her crime.

Amber McCarthy, 31, broke into a flower shop, forced the till open and stole cash.

When the owners arrived to prepare floral displays at the shop next to the Cooden Beach Hotel in Bexhill they found Corn Flakes and blooms scattered outside.

Rachel Beckett, prosecuting at Hove Crown Court, said: "The owners noticed a trail of Corn Flakes outside the shop and called the police.

"The trail led from the flower shop to Room 118 at the hotel.

"When they searched the room police found items taken from the shop."

The Corn Flakes were found at 4am on June 15 last year.

McCarthy, of Cavendish Place, Eastbourne, was arrested.

Just days earlier she had climbed through the open window of a house in Swallowfield Road, Eastbourne, while the owner was out.

She stole a Sony PSP games console, a digital camera and other equipment worth more than £700.

Miss Beckett said McCarthy later sold the camera and console for just £30.

She was caught after a fingerprint found on the open window matched her police records.

McCarthy admitted the burglaries and asked for two similar offences in June to be taken into consideration.

The court heard she also has two previous convictions for burglaries in 2001 and 2002.

New laws meant she could have faced a minimum three year jail sentence for a third similar offence.

Isobella Forshall, defending, said McCarthy had been addicted to drugs.

She had left her "chaotic lifestyle" in London and moved to Eastbourne to try to start a new life.

Miss Forshall said: "She has been in prison for six months since her arrest.

"She has availed herself of the facilities there to address her problems and has made considerable progress.

"This was a lapse into her previous drug use. It would be unjust to impose a minimum three year sentence."

Judge David Rennie said McCarthy had chosen to put her own needs first.

He said: "No matter what your problems they were not the problems of the householders whose homes you chose to invade.

"Three more people have had the upset of knowing that somebody else has been sniffing around inside their homes and stealing their property.

"You justifiably face a sentence of at least three years."

However, he said McCarthy had already served the equivalent of a 12-month prison sentence since her arrest in June.

He said he was also impressed by the progress McCarthy had made in trying to beat her drug addiction.

Judge Rennie added: "This creates a good platform from which you can build a drug-free and crime-free future.

"If that happens you win and, much more importantly, the community which you have harmed by your activities in the past also wins."

McCarthy was given a three-year supervised community order.

She must also complete a nine-month drug rehabilitation order and take part in a substance misuse programme.