A NIGHT-watchman for a brewery has been jailed after he allowed raiders access to steal from the property he was meant to protect.
Steven Kennedy, of Castle View, Castletown, Sunderland, was offered a bribe by two friends to help them steal from the Federation Brewery, where he was employed.
Kennedy agreed, having been declared bankrupt after squandering a fortune trying to pursue a relationship with a student.
Career criminal Gary Maskell, of Ernwill Avenue, Castletown, and mechanic Anthony Makin, of Norton Road, High Southwick, offered £400 to give them access to the plant, where he worked earning £300 a week.
They planned to steal four tons of metal, but the raid ended in calamity. The pair left DNA at the scene and severed a cable, triggering the fire alarm.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how Kennedy squandered thousands pursuing a relationship with a student. Over 12 months, he shelled out huge sums on train tickets and gifts.
But he was declared bankrupt after running up bills totalling more than £24,000.
Maskell and Makin bribed him to raid the site, in Dunston, Gateshead, hiring a van and using the site’s forklift truck, before hacking away sections of the metal.
In total, they stole 14 filter units, two copper cylinders and stripped away stainless steel which they sold for more than £5,400.
The raiders were caught after Maskell downed a bottle of wine on the site and left his DNA on it.
As they carried out the theft, they severed a cable, triggering the fire alarm.
The court heard Makin had hired the van using his own details and was placed at the scene of the crime when the vehicle broke down and he was forced to call the hire company.
The three men have been jailed for the scam, with Judge Roger Thorn QC at Newcastle Crown Court branding Kennedy a “key and vital part of the conspiracy” which required “detailed planning”.
He criticised Kennedy after it emerged another security guard had also faced charges – despite being totally innocent.
Jailing the gang for a total of more than four years, Judge Thorn said: “A huge aggravating feature is that it involved the bribing of a patrol guard.
“Kennedy, you grossly abused the trust put in you. Another security guard was under suspicion and faced charges for 12 months.”
Kennedy, 39, Makin, 57, and Maskell, 37, all admitted conspiracy to burglary. Kennedy, was given 20 months in prison, Makin, was told to serve 14 months.
Maskell, whose guilty plea triggered a three-month suspended sentence for shoplifting, was sentenced to 15 months.
Andrew Rutter, defending Maskell, said: “His desire was to obtain funds so that he could buy his children Christmas presents.”
Peter Walsh, for Kennedy, said: “I accept he was in a position of trust, but he was not someone who it could be said was in a position of authority.”
Paul Cross, defending Makin, said: “He’s a man who has always worked hard and had a good job since 1996.”