A 41-year-old Salisbury man has been given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to stealing over £3,000 from a pet shop.
Douglas Jaques targeted the former Pampurred Pets shop on Fisherton Street overnight between November 14th and 15th 2016.
Approximately £3,000 was stolen from the store safe during the burglary.
Prosecuting at Salisbury Crown Court on Thursday, Tim Dracass said Jaques had knowledge of where the safe was as his partner was employed as the store supervisor.
The court was told that the day before the burglary, Jaques had entered the shop while his girlfriend and the store manager were cashing up, and that he had asked to use the toilet in the back part of the shop.
“The crown’s case is that the defendant must have become aware, perhaps through the conversation that was taking place in the store, or perhaps a subsequent conversation with his girlfriend, that there was a significant amount of cash that had been stored in the safe that night,” Mr Dracass said.
The next morning the store manager found the safe empty and a rear fire door open.
Police attending the scene found a chisel on the floor by the safe, and forensic tests on it later showed “a major DNA profile” belonging to Jaques.
And officers found footage of his girlfriend’s car, which Jaques was also insured to drive, travelling towards Salisbury along St Thomas’s Bridge at 4.21am, ten minutes before the pet shop alarm was triggered.
In a police interview Jaques said the chisel was one of a number of tools he had disposed of in a nearby skip, and that he had been driving his girlfriend’s car to buy cannabis.
Officers discovered that the couple had “significant debts” of about £3,000 - the amount stolen, which was never recovered. Jaques originally denied the charge but changed his plea on the day his trial was set to start in March.
Defending, David Jenkins said Jaques had a “mad moment” because he was in “financial desperation” and had an alcohol problem “which affected his decision making processes”.
He said Jaques was “suitable for rehabilitation in the community”, and that if he went to prison his girlfriend would “certainly” lose their home as they relied on his income from installing windows.
Judge Parkes said: “ It was not a moment of madness, it was plainly thought about and you went equipped with a chisel.”
But he said jailing Jaques would have a “harmful effect” on his partner, who suffers from mental health issues, adding: “All things being equal, nothing would give me more pleasure than sending you to prison, which you thoroughly deserve, I’m not going to.”
He sentenced Jaques to six months in prison, suspended for two years, with 150 hours of unpaid work.