A burglar whose “best friend” died when they decided to go out burgling after a drink and drugs binge has been jailed for a year.

Albert Brinkley, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to burglary in Mason Way, Waltham Abbey, on March 6.

Stephen Pope, 35, of Waltham Abbey, was found dead in an alleyway near the scene between Mason Way and Honey Lane and he was said to have been found with a concrete fence pillar lying across his neck and died of suffocation.

Brinkley, 28, claimed they had been drinking and taking pills before deciding to commit the burglary.

Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC said: “You were with a great friend of yours, Stephen Pope, and it appears you may have acted opportunistically.

“He, at least, had latex gloves and may have intended to carry out the burglary, which can cause pain and distress to the victim to a far greater value than the items by way of sentimental value.

“Mr Pope unfortunately died in the course of the burglary and you should consider whether it’s a reasonable risk for someone to die or keep away from it in future.”

A laptop and jewellery were stolen in the burglary as well as clothes and cash.

Brinkley’s counsel, Cyrus Schroff, said: “It was decided on the spur of the moment to commit burglary.

“Brinkley, just released from prison, had no money when he came out but he’s particularly remorseful about what’s happened and apologises to the court.”

Mr Schroff added: “He hopes you can take into account the situation involving the loss of his friend.”

A 51-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of burglary following the incident on March 6 and bailed until April 7 pending further enquiries.