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Charity boxes stolen during Tesco break-in in Stratford

TWO men smashed their way into the Tesco petrol station in Stratford during the middle of the night to steal two charity collection boxes containing £40.

Warwick Crown Court (53022750)
Warwick Crown Court (53022750)

Ronhan McErlean and Christopher Duddle kicked in the glass door to the building, but were tracked with the help of CCTV cameras.

At Warwick Crown Court last week both men pleaded guilty to burglary.

Prosecutor David Jackson said that at 3am on 7th October, the duty manager at Tesco in Birmingham Road had a call to say the alarm had gone off at the petrol station. When he arrived, two police officers were already at the scene. A CCTV camera was checked, and showed McErlean looking through the glass door at 2.47am and then repeatedly kicking the bottom panel until it shattered.

He crawled inside before Duddle followed. They went to the counter where they each grabbed a charity collection box and pulled them from their chains before climbing back out.

The pair were tracked by CCTV cameras as they made their way past the Lidl store and down the side of the Premier Inn towards the canal towpath.

Officers followed the trail and found Duddle by the canal - he claimed he was there to meet a friend.

Police also heard another voice and soon found McErlean who struggled with the officers.

A total of £41.65 was recovered from the two men, Mr Jackson said.

The court heard that Duddle had 58 previous convictions for 147 offences, the majority of which were for theft, but his last conviction had been in November 2018.

McErlean had 47 convictions for 110 offences, which included thefts and 19 non-dwelling burglaries - and in December last year he had been jailed for 28 weeks for theft.

McErlean, 39, of Vincent Street, Coventry, was jailed for four months after the judge heard he was in breach of a community order imposed in July.

Duddle, 42, of Northumberland Road, Coventry, had his four-month term suspended for 12 months.

Recorder William Davis told them: “You both have dreadful records, but there is one important point of note, in that there has been a gap in your offending, Duddle, from November 2018 until this offence.”

He added: “I am just persuaded that in your case [Duddle] there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation. You have a long history of drug addiction, and the only way you are going to stop offending is by dealing with that.”

Duddle was ordered to take part in a Thinking Skills programme and had a 7pm-7am curfew imposed for six months.

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