John Bothick, 45, claimed he did not illegally enter CH Guitars and smash through the ceiling into Diamond Hair’s outlet below, in Fowler Street, South Shields.
Bothick, of Beach Road, South Shields, pleaded not guilty after prosecutors presented only fuzzy CCTV images of a suspect at the scene on Friday, October 22.
But new forensic footprint evidence was put before a court on the day of his trial, making him sing a different song - and change his plea.
A judge has now handed him a last-minute jail reprieve after first admitting she had him earmarked for imprisonment but had changed her mind at the last moment.
Prosecutor Marc Atkins told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court: “CH Guitars was where he entered the premises underneath.
“He entered using a saw that was in the premises to cut through the floor, and he used a ladder which was also in the premises to climb down into the hairdressers.
“Money was taken from the till in the hairdresser’s, it was £50, which was the float for the next day.
“A tip jar containing about £700, which had been there for some time and which was only emptied once a year at Christmas, was taken.
“The manager of the guitar shop is a DIY enthusiast, and he did much of the repairs himself, but he did have to pay £30 for a repair kit for his damaged door.”
Mr Atkins added: “There was CCTV from the guitar shop. The defendant was interviewed about the offence but denied it.
“On the day of trial, evidence of a footprint was submitted that led to a guilty plea.”
Bothick, who has 39 previous convictions from 98 offences, including 55 for theft or kindred, pleaded guilty to burglary and causing criminal damage.
The court heard he was jailed for eight months for a non-dwelling burglary in February last year and was on licence when he reoffended.
Peter Farrier, defending, said Bothick had not since reoffended and the imposition of a tagged curfew had positively altered his behaviour.
He added: “In a nutshell, Mr Bothick knows full well his predicament.”
A Probation Service report read to the court revealed Bothick was working well with its rehabilitation teams and seeking help for substance abuse.
Sentencing Bothick, District Judge Zoe Passfield told him she had written on her notepad that she would jail him for six months.
But she revealed she had changed her mind at the eleventh hour upon hearing the Probation Service’s positive input.
Judge Passfield jailed him for six months, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to pay £750 compensation to Diamond Hair and £30 to CH Guitars.
Conditions of the suspended sentence are that he must commit no further offences, complete 20 rehabilitation days and abide by a 12-week 7pm to 7am curfew.
There were no court costs or victim surcharge.