THIEVES stripped a vulnerable man's home of his possessions after demanding he hand over cash for drugs.

Cousins Owen Lawrence and Paul McDonagh subjected their victim to weeks of intimidation, spending time at his flat, demanding he buy them drugs and give them money.

And when he did not give them the cash they wanted they took his £1,000 mountain bike, laptop, X-Box and game after barging into his flat.

As their victim sat helplessly watching his possessions disappear the thieves warned him they would "knock him out" if he told police.

But the victim did make a complaint and, via a Skype video conference at Minshull Street Crown Court Lawrence, aged 40, of Edgar Street, Ramsbottom, and McDonagh, 36, of no fixed address were each sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to burglary.

Judge Mark Savill described their crime as "a mean offence".

Kate Gaskell, prosecuting, told how Lawrence had gone to live with his mother at her flat in Edgar Street and would often visit her neighbour asking for cigarettes or money.

The Bolton News: Owen LawrenceOwen Lawrence

"He [the victim] would often give these things to him to get rid of him," said Miss Gaskell.

In January McDonagh also started visiting the man's flat, smoking cigarettes or playing video games.

The Bolton News: Paul McDonaghPaul McDonagh

The victim told police that he had not wanted the men in his home but had no choice because he felt intimidated.

"The visits became more frequent, almost every other day, and after a week the defendant asked [the victim] to start buying their drugs for them, which was mainly cocaine," said Miss Gaskell.

Lawrence began using the man's bank account to pay his benefits into but the victim, after talking to his mother, realised it was wrong and stopped the payments.

A week before the burglary Lawrence and McDonagh arrived at the flat with £120 worth of cocaine and gave a small amount to their victim.

They returned later saying he owed them money and he handed over £45.

But at 5pm on January 24 the cousins knocked on their victim's door again and repeated the demand for money before walking into the flat and taking property worth around £1,200.

The victim remained sitting in a chair saying nothing as the thieves took his property, saying they would return it when Lawrence got his benefits paid.

In a statement the victim, who was said to be childlike and vulnerable due to mental health difficulties, said that he had been too frightened to return to his own home for five weeks after the burglary.

Judge Savill heard that both defendants have extensive criminal records.

Patrick Buckley, defending Lawrence, stressed that no violence or weapon was used and described the crime as "unsophisticated".

"There was really no prospect of them ever not being apprehended," he said.

Huw Edwards, for McDonagh, said he was remorseful.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Savill told them: "In the weeks leading up to this incident you had taken advantage of him to some extent.

"You decided to concentrate your attentions on him because you thought you would meet little or no resistance."

In addition to the prison sentence the judge made a restraining order banning them from contacting their victim or going to his home for five years.