TWO men have been jailed over involvement in potential high value commercial burglaries.

Stuart Harris, 36, who took vehicles from a haulage company yard, plus cigarettes and alcohol in break-ins at two filling station shops, during the three-week spree, received prison sentences totalling four-and-a-half years.

Jason Thomas Kennedy, 23, who was among three people who took part in an attempted ram raid at a Co-op store in Blackhall Colliery, early on Boxing Day, was jailed for two years and seven months.

Durham Crown Court previously heard both were under investigation following ram raids at that store and, at a Co-op, in Trimdon, 40 minutes earlier on December 26.

Cars were reversed at speed into shutters, causing extensive damage.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said only Kennedy could be pinpointed in one of the raids, after he was recognised by a police community support officer on CCTV footage circulated among force personnel of three figures seen leaving a Mercedes car after the Blackhall offence.

Mr Baker said repairs costing £15,000 had to be carried out to the store front after the raid, but the manager said the cash machine at the branch was emptied due to concerns over potential future repeat incidents, causing “a massive impact” on the local community.

Extra security personnel were also employed by the company, while staff were fearful of further incidents in the wake of the raid.

Kennedy, of Burdon Court, Peterlee, admitted attempted burglary of the Blackhall store, but denied burglary of the Trimdon premises.

Harris, of Brandlings Way, Peterlee, denied charges relating to both the Boxing Day ram raids.

He did, however, admit burglary of MT Haulage Ltd, on Parsons Road, on Peterlee’s North-East Industrial Estate, plus three counts of theft relating to a Ford Transit van, Mercedes car and fuel siphoned from other vehicles on the site, all in the early hours of December 16.

Harris also admitted stealing £1,375 worth of tobacco and alcohol, in a burglary at Helmington Row Service Station, near Crook, early on January 7.

He asked for a similar offence, at a filling station shop at Plawsworth, also on January 7, to be considered.

Jane Waugh, for Harris, said the time served welder hit a downward spiral, taking cocaine, after finding himself out of work last year.

Andrew Teate, for Kennedy, said he made immediate admissions after being recognised on footage from the Blackhall raid.

Jailing both, Judge Simon Hickey agreed to leave the Trimdon Co-op raid burglary charge against both “on the file”, as well as the Blackhall raid allegation relating to Harris.