A HOUSEHOLDER who was burgled while he slept later had his van taken from the driveway.
Durham Crown Court heard two sets of vehicle keys and a camera were taken in the early hours from a house in Smillie Road, Horden.
“The occupier had left the door unlocked because he was expecting his son to return,” said Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting.
“He thinks the burglary happened at about 3am because the dog growled, although he did not get up.
“Police alerted him to what had happened when they saw the front door of the house was open.”
The court was told the van was stopped nearby by police who found 24-year-old Mark Ellwood in the passenger seat.
“In his pocket were the keys to the other vehicle on the driveway of the burgled house,” said Mr Soppitt.
“A man named Pringle – this defendant’s cousin – was arrested for the burglary and received three years at an earlier hearing.”
Ellwood, of Bailey Rise, Peterlee, admitted handling stolen goods and allowing himself to be carried in a vehicle he knew to be stolen on April 14.
He was of previous good character.
Martin Scarborough, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Ellwood’s criminality amounted to less than two minutes.
“The van pulled up beside him, he got in and took the keys to the other vehicle and put them in his pocket.
“He was trying to help his cousin at the time, but no longer associates with him.”
Judge Paul Sloan QC sentenced Ellwood to a 12-month community order and 80 hours of community work.
The judge told him: “I accept that on this occasion trouble came to you.
“In other respects you are decent young man who has qualifications and a good work ethic.
“These court proceedings have been a salutary lesson, and you have been assessed as having a very low risk of reoffending.”
Ellwood was ordered to pay £100 costs.