A MUSSELBURGH thief was caught climbing up a drain pipe and breaking into a friend’s first-floor flat.

Dominic Russell was spotted scaling the outside of the block of flats on the town’s North High Street by a shocked resident.

The witness then saw Russell use a metal pole to open a window of the home belonging to Kevin Yip and climb into the property.

The police were alerted to the break-in at about 11.45pm on June 25 and officers attended at Russell’s nearby home about 20 minutes later.

The officers found the thief within his flat and, following a brief search, they discovered a bank card belonging to Mr Yip, along with the metal pole used to open the window.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told that when Russell, of North High Street, was cautioned and charged, he replied that he had broken into the flat because he had been “concerned about his friend”.

The court was also told that the 46-year-old had admitted to police to using the pole to enter Mr Yip’s property.

Russell pleaded guilty to breaking into the home at North High Street and stealing a bank card on June 25 when he appeared at the Capital court on Tuesday.

He also admitted to further offences of breaking into Wallyford Miners’ Club on Salters Road and stealing a till on March 31, and to stealing a quantity of bedding, uttering threats and brandishing a needle at Lidl, High Street, Prestonpans, on May 9.

Russell also admitted to a fifth offence of stealing bedding from the B&M store on Prestonpans High Street on the same date.

Solicitor Brian Gilfedder, representing Russell, told the court that his client had been in custody since his arrest in June and had been going through a period of abstinence from substances but had relapsed due to a relationship breakdown.

The lawyer said that his “significant record” was due to Russell’s “misuse of alcohol and drugs” but he was now engaging with recovery service MELD while being held in custody.

Sheriff Matthew Auchincloss said: “I am going to get some information from a social work report to see if there is an alternative to prison.”

Russell was remanded in custody and sentence was deferred to later this month.