A THIEF who targeted a builder’s merchants and dressed up in staff uniform told police he was in the building because he was a “good citizen” who was trying to stop a crime.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that Paul Simon Kelly locked himself inside an office after smashing a window to get inside and triggering the alarm.

Oriana Frame, prosecuting, said: “An employee of MKM in Darlington arrived at work at approximately 6.55am to find the alarm had been activated, he carried out a quick check of the building and at that point police arrived.

“They checked the CCTV which showed a single figure in the yard smashing a window and then entering the building through it.

“At that point another member of staff said a door was locked from the inside which isn’t usually locked. Police looked through the window and seen somebody inside wearing a high visibility vest.

“Police forcefully entered the room and found the defendant with a laptop under his left arm wearing workwear with MKM written on it.

"The member of staff said he did not work there and it was clear he had put the items on whilst inside the building.”

When interviewed by police Kelly said he was “simply walking past” when he noticed a smashed window and wanted to check it out.

Ms Frame added: “He told police he was a good citizen who wanted to stop a crime in progress and he said he picked up the laptop for safe keeping.

“When police showed him the CCTV footage he said ‘yes it doesn’t look good does it.’”

Kelly, of High Northgate, Darlington, has 11 previous convictions for 20 offences, including burglary.

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary other than dwelling theft on Friday, October 4 this year.

A statement from probation said: “”There was a gap in his offending for about five years, he tells me he got married and had children and settled down.

“There are some issues with anxiety and depression. He uses alcohol as a crutch and has been going to a group similar to alcoholics anonymous.

“He had been drinking cider for a few days leading up to the offence and says that he has a vague recollection of events.

“He said once he had seen the footage and he knew he had been caught he did admit that it was him.

“He is in receipt of universal credit and receives £280 per month but he has to pay rent out of that.”

Chair of the bench, Mark O’Neill, sentenced Kelly to a 12 month community order with a six month alcohol treatment requirement. He must also complete 10 rehabilitation activity days and pay £50 compensation to MKM builders in Durham.