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Burglars caught after leaving a trail of whisky behind

The alcohol trail led from the Co-op at Longford, Gloucester, to nearby flats where one of the gang lived.

Four men were arrested at the property soon after the raid.

Mark Dart, from Brockworth, and Scott McChristie, from Churchdown, were sentenced on Thursday after admitting their roles in the £2,000 burglary.

Two more of the gang are due to be sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on 21 August.

Dart, 62, of Vicarage Court, Brockworth, pleaded guilty to his part in the burglary and the theft of cigarettes and alcohol, while McChristie, 55, of Coriander Drive, Churchdown, admitted handling the stolen goods on the same date.

Their sentencing coincided with an announcement by the Co-Operative Group that there were about 175,000 crime-related incidents at its stores during the first six months of this year.

The prosecution said that at 23:15 GMT on 2 April 2020, three members of the group forced their way into the Longford store through a boarded up window using a drain cover to throw at it.

They causing significant damage to the store after they got in, the court heard.

On entry, the three men damaged the till and removed items of alcohol and cigarettes, valued at around £2,000, before making their getaway.

A trail of liquid caused by a broken bottle of whisky then led the police to a block of nearby flats where one of the gang had been living at the time.

Their phones were seized and McChristie’s contained a message indicating they were selling cut-price cigarettes.

Dart was said to be the gang’s look out while McChristie was said to be selling the stolen items, the court heard.

Alcohol treatment order

Caitlin Evans, representing Dart, said: “My client was effectively the lookout for the gang. He was not one of the men who entered the store.”

Jason Coulter, for McChristie, said his client had no part in the burglary but admitted his role in handling the stolen goods.

The judge, Recorder Richard Mawhinney sentenced Dart to seven months in jail, suspended for 18 months.

He told McChristie he would be sentenced to a 12 month community order, which included a six month alcohol treatment requirement.

Both men were ordered to pay compensation of £200 to the Co-operative store.

(source: BBC)

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