A MAN has been jailed after stealing a Christmas wreath which left two young children in tears.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that Craig Cunningham was caught on CCTV walking past a house and taking the decoration from a front door in Bishop Auckland.

John Garside, prosecuting, said: "At approximately 1.40am on December 5 the defendant has been identified on CCTV effectively taking the wreath from the front door.

"The victim has explained how she placed the decoration there with a wooden plaque for her two young children.

"Following this incident she says that they have been very upset, crying a lot and scared in case somebody comes back to the house.

"When the defendant spoke to the police he asked them to pass on a message and it was 'tell the lady I am sorry'."

The mother-of-two said in a statement: "I have put other decorations outside for the children but now they want them all inside in case someone takes them.

"It's heartbreaking to see my children so upset at this time of year."

Cunningham, of Ladysmith Street, Bishop Auckland, was convicted of non-dwelling burglary on November 26 after he broke into a Cooplands bakery on Newgate Street in Bishop Auckland and stole biscuits and crisps.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

The 40-year-old pleaded guilty to the theft on December 5 and was jailed after a suspended sentence for a burglary committed last month was activated.

He asked magistrates to also take into consideration two other thefts of ladders and roof brackets when deciding his sentence.

Stephanie Thompson, mitigating, said: "He has explained that he is sorry for what he has done."

William Smith, chair of the bench, said: "We have decided to activate the suspended sentence because of how close together the offences are and the matters are aggravated because of your history."

Cunningham was sentenced to a total of 16 weeks in prison and ordered to pay £320 in compensation.