TWO men who broke into a social club to steal drink have been jailed for a total of seven years.
John Malcolm armed himself with an imitation firearm when Ricky Burdess asked him to help with the burglary, Durham Crown Court heard.
The court was told the pair got into the Catholic Club in Grampian Way, Peterlee, by removing a small window near the smoking area.
Paul Abrahams, prosecuting said witnesses heard noises coming from the club in the early hours and saw one man with a pistol.
Another man was seen leaving the club carrying a large amount of drink.
The court heard the club’s exterior CCTV cameras were equipped with night vision, which allowed a police officer to identify Malcolm.
“Four imitation firearms were found in his house,” said Mr Abrahams. “One was a rifle which clearly was not the weapon used, but one of the pistols may have been.
“Malcolm initially denied taking part in the burglary, but admitted he had been in Peterlee that night and had bought what he described as a gas gun for £60.”
Malcolm, 31, of Judd Place, Peterlee, admitted aggravated burglary on June 22.
Burdess, 24, of Pentland Place, Peterlee, admitted burglary, but denied aggravated burglary.
He was convicted of the more serious offence after a trial.
The court was told the burglary was a joint enterprise, and legally the pair were in joint possession of the firearm even though Burdess had not touched it.
Lawyers for the pair said the club was unoccupied when the burglary took place, and a relatively small amount of drink was taken.
Martin Scarborough, for Burdess, said his client had played a subordinate role.
Graeme Gaston, for Malcolm, said his client only had two previous convictions, and had kept out of trouble for several years.
Judge Robert Adams jailed Burdess for four years, and Malcolm for three.
He ordered the confiscation and destruction of two imitation firearms found in Malcolm’s house.