A METAL thief who has raided an empty South Tyneside factory three times has been handed a community order by magistrates.
Raymond Chisholm, 56, was caught after his footprints were found by police investigating break-ins at the Trench UK and Narec site in South Drive Hebburn, which is earmarked for demolition.
Chisholm, of Withham Road, Hebburn, admitted two separate offences of stealing metal bolts and copper wiring – to a combined value of £40 – at a hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last week.
The case was adjourned for sentencing until yesterday, over the theft of metal bolts to the value of £15 from an electrical substation at the Trench UK site, on Tuesday, November 6, and the theft of £25 worth of copper wiring from the Narec electrical testing station, between Friday, November 9, and Monday, November 12.
The electrical substation provides electricity for homes in the Hebburn area.
The court heard that, in December, Chisholm had been given a three-month community order with an electronically-tagged curfew after admitting to another burglary offence at the site.
The court heard that he admitted both offences in November, but said both sites had already been broken into when he carried out the thefts and that he had not tampered with electrical equipment at the sites.
Janice Bellamy, prosecuting, said police found footprints when they investigated the break-ins and these were later matched to Chisholm.
She added: “The defendant admitted he would have left footprints at the scene.
Police believed the amount of items taken during the incidents would have taken several days to remove, and required several people.
“This is why they accepted his version of events that he took the small quantity of bolts and copper wiring valued at £40.”
Geoffrey Forrester, defending, urged magistrates to give the defendant a community order with a curfew requirement, similar to that which had been imposed when he was sentenced for a similar offence in December.
The court heard that Chisholm would struggle to be regularly available to do unpaid work because of family commitments and a curfew order would be a suitable alternative.
Mr Forrester said: “I invite you, on a commonsense basis, to add on a curfew requirement which would have been imposed if these offences had been sentenced at his previous case in December.”
Magistrates agreed to the request and gave Chisholm a three-month community order, including a curfew order for one month, from 8.30pm to 7am. He was also ordered to pay court costs of £85, compensation of £15 and £25 for each offence, plus a victim surcharge of £60, making for a total court bill of £185.