A TEENAGER who was involved in the ram-raid burglary of an East Dorset newsagents has avoided a prison sentence.

Jack Littlechild was part of a group of at least four burglars who targeted Ringwood Road Stores in Verwood.

The break-in took place in the early hours of the morning on July 7, 2019.

After the front doors had been “caved in”, the cigarette cabinet was ransacked, with around £420 of produce and till float money stolen.

Prosecuting, Ellie Sheahan told a hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, January 22, that a neighbour heard a loud bang from across the street at around 3am.

The resident saw people appearing to use a vehicle to ram open the doors of the newsagents.

“The owner woke up due to the disturbance,” said Ms Sheahan. “He called police but he was too scared to go downstairs to see what was going on.”

The burglars fled the area and the newsagents was left in a bad state, with cardboard boxes all over the floor.

Detectives found fingerprints on the cigarette cabinet, which were later to be identified as a match for Littlechild, who was 16 at the time.

Ms Sheahan said following the incident the shop was not able to open while it was being repaired.

Littlechild, now 18 and of Whitehart Fields, Ringwood admitted a single count of burglary at a magistrates’ court hearing in October last year.

Mitigating, Laura Deuxberry said the defendant had been associating with the wrong people, who were older than him, at the time of the burglary.

“He didn’t plan this offence. It wouldn’t have been something that would have been his idea,” she told the court.

No one else has been arrested in connection with the burglary, the court heard.

Judge Stephen Climie said Littlechild “went along to pay of a drug debt”.

Ms Deuxberry said her client described the raid on the newsagents as “vile” and he was sorry for what he had done.

The judge said offences of this nature were taken “very seriously” by the courts but added there was sufficient reason to not send him straight to prison.

The court heard Littlechild had shown progress through restorative justice rehabilitation, which he was ordered to complete for a separate offence. This included him asking to do additional work beyond those required in the conditional discharge. His young age and guilty plea were also taken into account.

“On the face of it, this should be your last appearance in a court,” said Judge Climie.

He added: “You now seem to have genuine understand of the victim’s position.”

Littlechild was handed a two-year community order with a requirement to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and follow an overnight curfew for three months. He was also ordered to pay £500 compensation and £300 costs.

Judge Climie warned the defendant that if he were to breach the community order or commit another offence he would be put behind bars.