Two men caught red-handed stealing copper from the disused Wisbech Landbased Further Education College have been spared jail.
Instead, father-of-four Jerry Harvey, 40, of Hawthorne Avenue, Wisbech, and his look-out Louis Sullivan, 21, of South Brink, Wisbech, who both pleaded guilty today to burglary on 27 June last year, and received suspended prison sentences.
Cambridge Crown Court Judge Mark Lucraft QC imposed a three-month sentence on Harvey, suspended for 18 months, with 12 months’ supervision and 150 hours’ unpaid work.
Sullivan, who was only released from prison in April for a burglary committed before this one, was given a six-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, with 12 months’ supervision and 150 hours’ unpaid work.
The judge also confiscated Harvey’s £500 Vauxhall Astra, a sat-nav, bolt croppers and a pole, along with Sullivan’s mobile phone.
The court heard that a third man arrested had since gone missing.
Prosecutor Thomas Brown said two PCSOs heard metal striking metal when they passed the disused college about 3.30pm. They called for support and police set up a cordon. But they went in when a look-out spotted them.
One man, now missing, was arrested inside with wire clippers. Another, Harvey, was caught when he “flew out of a door”.
A police dog led its handler to a clump of nettles where Sullivan was hiding but he did not come out until the dog bit him on the foot.
Sullivan claimed he was sleeping rough and had nothing to do with the burglary, said the prosecutor.
However, the prosecutor said that inside the disused college were bags of bent copper piping and two copper boilers ready for transporting.
Michael Procter, mitigating for Harvey, said he was a family man who was living on benefits and in financial hardship at the time.
He said he had been “stupid” and didn’t want to set a criminal example to his children.
Jonathan Masters, for Sullivan, said he had learned from two recent stints in prison for burglary. He now had settled accommodation and was clean of illegal drugs.