A DRUNKEN burglar crashed a car in a bungled getaway attempt after stealing musical instruments worth thousands of pounds from a Dorchester store, a court heard.

Michael Anthony Brooks, 30, was jailed for 20 months at Dorchester Crown court after admitting stealing guitars and banjos worth £31,500 from Harmony Music in Trinity Street.

He also admitted a number of other offences, including taking the number plates off a car in Prince’s Street, Dorchester, to put over those on the one he was driving.

Prosecuting, Carolyn Branford-Wood said police were alerted to a car accident on the A37 near Weirs Roundabout in the early hours of February 1.

The defendant, of London Road, Gloucester, was arrested on suspicion of drink driving, but officers soon discovered a number of musical instruments in the car and in a field next to the accident.

She added that Brooks had got hold of the car, which had been stolen in Yeovil, from some friends, and had filled up at a petrol station in Dorchester, before driving off without paying.

He went to a bar before smashing the window of the music store and stealing the instruments, the court heard. In a police interview he accepted what he had done but said he ‘couldn’t remember a thing’.

In mitigation, Tim Shorter, said: “He accepted he must have committed the burglary, even though he has no recollection of it, and he has expressed remorse. He sobered up and has been in custody since then and realised how very badly he acted.”

Judge Roger Jarvis sentenced him to 20 months for the burglary, 10 months for handling stolen goods, three months for aggravated vehicle taking, six weeks for theft, six weeks for making off without payment and one month for failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, with all sentences to be served concurrently. He disqualified him from driving for two years.

For the offences of driving with no insurance or licence there was no separate penalty.

Noting that Brooks had had a ‘tragic’ childhood, Judge Jarvis said: “You clearly understand what you have to do.

“The pity is at this stage you are not ready to act upon it.

“I hope that day is approaching.”

He added: “It must have been shocking for the owners to arrive and see what had happened.

“There was a significant degree of loss.”

Justice has been done

SPEAKING after the hearing, James Barwick, managing director of Harmony Music, said he was pleased justice had been done.

He said: “It feels very personal when it’s your business and it’s frustrating because it’s all so pointless.

“The police have had the expense on their time, we’ve had to make a claim on our insurance and we are all just back to where we were before.

“Although most of the equipment came back, all of it was damaged.”

He added: “Having said that I am immensely grateful to Dorset Police.

“Their help and support was above and beyond the call of duty.”

Deputy Inspector Steve Foot, of Dorchester Police, said: “As this call came in as a road traffic accident, it was fantastic work by local police officers.”