Brothers jailed for ‘sophisticated’ thefts over a 24-hour period

THREE brothers have been jailed after a series of ‘sophisticated’ thefts worth more than �4,000.

James, Michael and John Paul O’Brien were all imprisoned for their part in three thefts across North Somerset last month.

The trio admitted stealing maintenance equipment worth �1,861.92 from Churchill Academy and Sixth Form, two chainsaws from a car in Nailsea and picking up �830 worth of aluminium from outside Smart Systems in Yatton.

North Somerset Courthouse was told on Monday that the trio embarked on the raids during a 24-hour period on June 26-27.

Using a white van with covered windows and a false number plate, the O’Brien brothers were caught by police following the third raid at a garage belonging to the Churchill school.

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Police arrested Michael at 10am in the Chelvey area while his brothers fled the scene. They were caught an hour later.

Kellie Marshall, prosecuting, said the maintenance equipment, including a small tractor, strimmer, handsaw and leaf blower, were in the back of the van when the brothers were arrested, but the chainsaws and aluminium have never been found.

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Sunny Thind, defending, said 37-year-old Michael, of Halling Hill, Harrow, had five similar convictions but had not been involved in crime since 2004.

She said John Paul, aged 32, and his brother James, six years his junior, had long criminal records because of their struggles with alcohol and drugs, but said both were keen to change their ways.

The brothers admitted one charge of burglary, one of theft from a motor vehicle and a third charge of theft by finding.

Joy Yeates, chair of the bench, sentenced John Paul, of Kingshead Lane, Bristol, and James, of Witherpool Gardens, Bristol, to 10 months in prison. Elder brother Michael was given a seven-month sentence.

She said: “These thefts were planned in a sophisticated manner and targeted items with a high value. The goods were only recovered because of the work by the police and dog handlers.”

She said the fact they had worked together on the thefts and had deliberately altered the van to make it harder to trace, aggravated the offence. She added Michael was given a shorter sentence as he had fewer criminal convictions in the past.

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