TWO men have admitted breaking into a converted former farm barn, but on the basis it is not classed as a “dwelling”.

James Ball and Christopher Kenning were arrested shortly after a report was received of a break-in at Turnip Barn, Witton Gilbert, near Durham, on the morning of Tuesday November 23, last year.

A television was taken from the property, which is let out as a holiday cottage separate from the nearby farm.

Read more: Police arrest suspects in Witton Gilbert farm burglary

The issue of whether or not it is classed as a “dwelling” in the eyes of the law has been the subject of debate over a number of recent hearings at Durham Crown Court, as the penalty for breaking into lived in premises is greater than for commercial property.

In a statement from the owners the court heard it is rented out for 41 of 52 weeks a year as a holiday let, on a self-catering basis, with the average length of stay usually about a week.

At the time of the burglary it was not inhabited, but it was likely to have been let out the following day.

Danielle Graham, for the Crown, said: “The commercial nature doesn’t rule out that it’s a dwelling.”

Tony Davis, for Kenning, said it may be an argument, “in legal semantics”, and may be for a jury to decide the issue.

Both Ball, 34, of King Edward Street, Gateshead, and 41-year-old Kenning, of John Street, Beamish, deny burglary of the barn, as a dwelling, but admit burglary of the building, stealing the tv set.

Judge Ray Singh adjourned the case for a trial, expected to last only a day, at the court on April 7.

Both will remain in custody in the intervening period.

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