A burglar was caught on camera drinking beer from behind the bar of a pub he had broken into on Christmas Eve.

Leon Fearnley, 36, broke into the Radcliffe pub with another man more than three years ago in the early hours of December 24, 2019.

But Bolton Crown Court heard how Fearnley was far less prepared than his co-burglar.

Prosecutor Hannah Forsyth said: “A later review of the CCTV showed one of the men was wearing a balaclava and gloves and had forced entry using a crowbar.

“Another man was seen without a face covering, helping himself to cans from behind the bar.”

The Bolton News: The case was heard at Bolton Crown CourtThe case was heard at Bolton Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

Ms Forsyth told the court that Fearnley, who has two previous convictions for three offences, was the second man, who was not wearing a face covering, and that he was identified by DNA samples left on the beer cans at the pub.

Between them the two men stole £210 from the pub’s till, spirits worth around £300 and two fruit machines, worth around £7000 combined, which were loaded into a van outside and driven off.

Fearnley, of Kirby Avenue, Atherton, was arrested May 22 2020 but has not been brought to court for sentencing until now after having previously failed to appear in court.

But he pleaded guilty to burglary when brought before the magistrates court.

Paul Treble, defending, argued that Fearnley deserved credit for having pleaded guilty and claimed that he was clearly in a “subordinate” role compared to the other burglar.

He said: “His ineptitude is perhaps shown on the footage, he is not masked, he is seen easily drinking cans from a fridge which can identify him.”

He added: “There is a clear distinction between the two offenders.”

Mr Treble told the court how Fearnley, who appeared before the court via video link from prison, had become involved in the burglary after descending into a “chaotic” lifestyle, drinking to much and taking amphetamines.

But since then he had stopped drinking, taking drugs and had even given up smoking in an effort to free himself of addictive substances.

Mr Treble said: “He finds prison to be a terrible place, he doesn’t want to stay there and he will not return when he is released.”

Judge Tom Gilbart accepted that Fearnley had earned credit for his guilty plea but reminded the court of the damage he had done to the pub and the fact that he had previously failed to appear.

But he also noted the “hapless” lack of planning involved as far as Fearnley was concerned when compared to the other burglar.

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Addressing the defendant, Judge Gilbart said: “I accept that this reveals you to be not a particularly sophisticated criminal.”

He sentenced Fearnley to 43 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered him to complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days with 200 hours of unpaid work.

He also warned the defendant of what could await him if he fails to keep to his order.

Judge Gilbart said: “I gave you this opportunity and if I was wrong in that then you’re going to be brought back before me again and the alternative could be immediate custody.”