Aristocrat Lady Sara Bathurst told a court today of her shock and terror when she pulled open the curtains of her Cotswolds stately home and discovered a burglar cowering behind them.

Thomas Trickey, 20, had broken into the Cirencester Park mansion to steal but was caught by Lady Bathurst after she and her husband were alerted by their alarm system at 1am on October 18.

Looking around the mansion together, Earl Bathurst and his wife noticed an 'unusually strong draught' and looked up to see that a window about 20feet high was broken, Bristol Crown Court was told.

It was then that Lady Bathurst opened the curtains and found Trickey, the prosecution said. But despite the fear she felt at the encounter she grabbed Trickey by the collar and marched him into the kitchen to call the police.

Prosecutor Nicholas Lee told the court: “He explained to her that he didn’t mean any harm and said he was hungry and was looking for money.

“He kept saying he was sorry to Lady Bathurst and how stupid he had been.

“Police arrived and arrested him and he told the officers that he had taken an opium-based pain killer earlier and was looking for money for food and rent.

“He said that he had decided to break into a wealthy house as the damage to the owners would be less."

Trickey, of Cheltenham Road, Stratton, near Cirencester, admitted burgling the mansion with intent to steal and was sentenced to 20 months in a young offenders institution by the recorder of Bristol Judge Peter Blair QC.

In a victim statement Lady Bathurst said: “Feeling somebody, who you do not know, has entered your home in an aggressive way intent on stealing something is devastating.

"The feeling is so intense I cannot put it into words

"I will never forget that feeling of Trickey entering my home not knowing the threat he posed.

"My husband and I need to feel safe in our home. He has shattered that illusion.

"We give a lot to the local community. We often open up our grounds to the public and we try to share what we have with the local community."

The prosecutor added: “The couple hope Trickey will learn from his actions and they genuinely hope he can sort his life out for a better future.”

Joe Maloney, defending said: "It is obvious he is genuinely remorseful and he put his hands up to the offence when he was arrested.

“He is very sorry for what he has done and regrets what has happened.