TWO repeat offenders were caught on CCTV breaking into a farmhouse in Warrington and stealing up to £1,000 worth of property in a targeted burglary.

The court heard how Anthony Bent and Nicholas Oxton broke into the property in Culcheth and ransacked the place of many valuable items, unaware of the hidden CCTV that had been installed in the kitchen by the owner.

Bent, of Bromwich Street, Bolton and Oxton, of Manchester Road, Walkden, appeared before Liverpool Crown Court on Friday.

Bent pleaded guilty to the count of burglary while Oxton initially pleaded not guilty before changing his plea in November.

Prosecuting, Joan Maxwell said the incident occurred on March 17, 2021.

She said that the property in question was unoccupied at the time but that the owner would make two regular daily checks at mid-day and in the evening to make sure the property was still safe and secure.

After a string of break-ins at the farmhouse the owner decided to install hidden cameras in the kitchen.

The court heard that on the day of the burglary the owner had checked the property at mid-day and when he left the door was closed.

When he returned at 5pm the door was open, and several valuables had been stolen.

Bent, 54 and Oxton, 43, had entered the property and stolen various tools including a screwdriver which when recovered had been found to have Bent’s DNA all over it.

Other stolen items that were recovered included a dishwasher that had been ripped out by the defendants, copper piping, floorboards and part of a fuse box.

Footage of the pair carrying out the act was retained from the hidden camera and the owner declared the amount stolen to have been worth approximately £1,000 with costs of up to £3,000 estimated to be spent to rectify the damage and what was taken.

The owner provided a victim statement which was read out to the court in which he said: “This incident has left me with sleepless nights.

“I fear of attending my property on my own.

“This incident has had a significant negative effect on my mental health.”

Defending, Eleanor Gleeson for Oxton explained that he understood the ‘severity’ of his offending and that he was worried of the impact prison would have on his young son’s life.

She said: “He wants to be a positive influence on his son’s life.”

Defending, Nicholas Ross for Bent referred to the significant delay of the case. She said:

“Within this period of time and since he has kept out of trouble.”

“He has been frustrated not knowing his fate,” she added.

Concluding, Judge Clement Goldstone said: “You are effectively old lags.

“You both are capable of leading honest lives.”

“Records show, when you put your mind to it, you can.”

He added that had to case been dealt with at the time they would have been given 8-month sentences.

Both defendants were handed a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

Oxton is required to complete a 12-month thinking skills programme and 35 days of rehabilitation while Bent has been served with 120-hours of community work and 35 days of rehabilitation.