Two burglars were caught in the act having used a Ford Transit van to ram raid units on an industrial estate, a court was told.

Police reached the scene after Andrew Wright reversed into roller shutters to force entry to the units on Hobson Industrial Estate, at Burnopfield, near Stanley, shortly after midnight on Friday June 3.

Durham Crown Court heard both Wright and co-accused David Paul Noutch were rummaging about in one of the premises when officers arrived to confront them.

The Northern Echo: Ram raiders targeted units at Hobson Industrial Estate, at Burnopfield, near Stanley, overnight on June 3 Picture: GAVIN ENGELBRECHT Ram raiders targeted units at Hobson Industrial Estate, at Burnopfield, near Stanley, overnight on June 3 Picture: GAVIN ENGELBRECHT

Neil Jones, prosecuting, said another accomplice was also present alongside a black BMW, but he was not apprehended.

Mr Jones said Wright tried to get back behind the wheel of the van and revved up the engine as if he was about to try to pull away, telling one of the officers to get back.

Both he and Noutch were detained, however, with use of incapacitant spray.

They gave ‘no comment’ interviews with police, but Wright, 29, of Nightingale Place, Stanley, and 28-year-old Noutch, of Tees Street, Chopwell, subsequently pleaded guilty to two burglary charges each when they appeared before magistrates, recently.

Wright also admitted driving while disqualified and with no insurance.

Mr Jones told the crown court sentencing hearing that boxes were moved and opened at the targeted units, but nothing was taken, although the roller shutters at both were badly damaged.

He said the cost of the damage to one of them was put at £1,548, but the repair bill for the second was not known.

Read more: Volvo lorry stolen from Chester-le-Street industrial estate

Wright was said to have 25 convictions for 42 offences and Noutch 36 convictions for 59 offences.

Ryan Donoghue, for Wright said he had intended going straight after his last prison sentence but was persuaded to take part in the burglary with someone he barely knew.

Mr Donoghue said Wright has mental health issues which would be better addressed in the community rather than behind bars, again.

Having read reports on him prepared by the Probation Service and his mental health team, Recorder Jamie Hill said he would take an exceptional course with Wright.

“This certainly crosses the custody threshold.

“But, the other side of the coin is that you are someone who it is thought could benefit from the assistance of the Probation Service to address your behaviour.”

Recorder Hill told Noutch’s counsel, Paul Green, it was only fair to pass a similar sentence on his client.

Both received a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which they must complete 35 days of probation supervision and 100-hours’ unpaid work.

They were both ordered to pay £774 compensation, while Wright’s driving ban was extended to 56 months.

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