A GRANDDAD who vandalised a neighbour’s vehicle using a car key was caught by a secret camera, a court heard.

Robert Sharples, aged 54, was recorded using the key to scratch the paintwork of the Renault Megane Index when it was parked outside his home on Valley Court.

Halton Magistrates Court heard on Thursday how Sharples moved his own car in front of the victim’s before damaging it.

Police, who installed the camera, say he was recorded doing so on six occasions - four on March 6, and two on March 28.

Alison Warburton, prosecuting, said: “(The victim) parked that vehicle in a car park.

“CCTV footage shows (the defendant).

“He scratched the Megane, using his own car key.”

After being identified using the footage, Sharples denied being responsible for the damage.

The court heard during a police interview he continued to deny the allegations even when read a victim statement in which she described recognising him from the footage.

Sharples only admitted the offences when the camera recording was played to him.

“He said he did it because he saw the owner of the car damaging his own car, although there is no evidence of that,” added Mrs Warburton.

The defendant, who is on incapacity benefit, pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal damage.

He has eight previous convictions for 16 offences, although the last one was recorded in 2001.

Gary Schooler, defending, said: “He feels quite humiliated about what happened.

“As he said during my sessions with him, it’s no way for a man of his age to behave.

“He believed the vehicle to be owned by someone (the victim) was in a relationship with .

“He says his vehicle had been damaged, tyres let down, paint stripper poured on it.

“This got on top of him, and he believed the person who I’ve mentioned was responsible.”

Sharples was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge, and told to pay £300 in compensation and costs.