A judge who spared a sneak thief jail and said break-ins required a "huge amount of courage" has caused a loss of confidence in the justice system, one of the burglar's victims said.

Judge Peter Bowers sparked an outcry with his comments while sentencing Richard Rochford at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday, with the Prime Minister stepping in to say burglars were cowards.

Rochford, from Redcar, Cleveland, burgled three homes in five days. One victim, Mark Clayton, told the ITV show Daybreak: "He cannot be courageous, he is an opportunist."

Asked how he felt about the judge's sentencing remarks, the former soldier said: "He has made a great injustice to the victims of the crimes this guy has committed, or any other burglar.

"He doesn't strike any hope for the people who have been burgled. It doesn't give them confidence in the justice system."

But Mr Clayton, whose teenage son wrongly fell under suspicion following the February break-in, did not believe the judge should lose his job. "I couldn't say that, I don't know the man," he said. "For me to make that judgment on a judge is wrong."

Judge Bowers's conduct will be investigated by the Office of Judicial Complaints after a number of members of the public contacted the organisation to vent their anger.

If complaints are upheld the case will be passed to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor, who will consider if disciplinary action is needed. They have the power to advise, warn, reprimand or remove a judge for misconduct.

Mr Clayton told the programme he did not hate the thief. "I hate what he has done by coming into my house and taking items that he shouldn't have taken."

Mr Clayton added that he has to repeatedly check his household security, and wakes up if he hears any noise. "He has got in my head on a psychic level."