A BURGLAR from Ringwood who helped a gang raid a lawnmower showroom was caught hiding face down in a graveyard after police intercepted him on his way home.

Bradley Wells was part of a three-strong group that used heavy duty cutters to slice through protective steel bars which guarded a window of the business in Honiton, Devon.

They were caught on CCTV as Wells climbed inside the MNR Mowers shop and passed £6,600 worth of goods out to the others.

Police were able to read the vehicle’s registration and stopped it at Fugglestone St Peter, near Salisbury, 90 minutes after the burglary.

By that stage there were only two people inside and they fled to the nearby churchyard where they were found hiding by a police dog. Balaclavas, gloves and torches were recovered nearby.

Charges against the other man were dropped because there was no definite link to the burglary but Wells’s shoes provided a perfect match for marks found inside the showroom.

The third intruder, who had already been dropped off by the time the police caught up with Wells, was never traced.

Wells, aged 24, of Winston Way, admitted burglary and was jailed for 22 weeks, suspended for two years, ordered to do 80 hours unpaid community work and pay £150 compensation by Judge Timothy Rose at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “You got yourself involved, for whatever reason, in a really serious, planned and organised commercial burglary. The premises were targeted deliberately and you had balaclavas, gloves and torches.

“You also had some pretty hefty cutting equipment to get through the bars and there was a makeshift step to enable you to reach the window. It seems you were the one who went in and passed items out to the others.”

The judge said he was suspending the sentence because Wells has never been in trouble before and has significant family responsibilities.

Mr Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said MNR Mowers on the Heathpark Industrial Estate at Honiton was broken into at 9.40 pm on August 4, 2019.

CCTV showed three men who were wearing masks and gloves cutting their way in through a barred window and removing items before leaving at around 11 pm.

Their vehicle was picked up by number plate recognition cameras and it was stopped in Fugglestone St Peter, where a police dog found Wells hiding in the church graveyard.

All the £6,600 worth of stolen property was recovered but the raid caused £780 damage to the shop.

Miss Felicity Payne, defending, said Wells is a family man who has never been in trouble of any sort until he started mixing with people who proved to be a bad influence.

He had been drinking with them on the night of the raid and had very little recollection of taking part in it.

He has stayed away from them and stayed out of trouble in the time since the burglary and realises he needs to grow up and take responsibility for his actions.