Sunderland pair spared jail after thousands of pounds of machinery taken from Wearside building site
A former businessman who stole a £45,000 piece of plant machinery from a building site has kept his freedom.
Andrew McCain took a Bobcat owned by Groundworks Direct from a secured area at Chester Gate in Sunderland and put it on a low loader with the help of Dean McCafferty.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the pair were spotted by a passing police officer, claimed they were just looking for directions and drove off before they could be questioned further.
Prosecutor Joe Hedworth told the court the low loader vehicle was traced to a company owned by a relative of McCain's and a further £35,000 worth of stolen machinery, including two road rollers and a planer, also belonging to Groundworks, were found.
Police also discovered a radio device used to detect whether stolen items were fitted with GPS equipment before they are taken.
McCain, 32, of Leechmere Road, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to theft and handling stolen goods.
Prosecutor Joe Hedworth told the the court: "The total value was £80,800."
Liam O'Brien, defending, said McCain became involved in the dishonesty through someone else, who offered him an opportunity "too good to turn down" and he suspected it was going to be "dodgy".
Mr O'Brien said McCain was "absolutely desperate" at the time of the offences in March last year after his own business collapsed and he was left with significant debts.
Mr O'Brien said at the time of the offences McCain's life "could hardly have been any worse" but he has since found a job and started to put his life back together.
McCafferty, 51, of Hadleigh Road, Sunderland, admitted handling stolen goods in relation to the Bobcat.
Tony Cornberg, defending, said McCafferty has had health problems and leads an isolated life.
Mr Cornberg said McCafferty had a "limited function" in the offending.
Judge Robert Adams sentenced McCain to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours unpaid work and £150 compensation order.
McCafferty was sentenced to 10 months, suspended for 18 months, with a four month curfew and £150 compensation order.
Judge Adams said: "These were obviously very high value items."