A TEENAGE dog-napper has been given a chance to prove himself after a judge heard he is turning his life around after becoming a father.
Justin Brookes pinched Jack Russell terrier Fifi when he burgled the home of her owner in a revenge attack.
The 18-year-old believed the woman hadn't paid him enough when he sold her a mobile phone, even though he had stolen it from another woman.
After badgering her for more cash he and some friends went to her house when she was out and smashed their way in through the back door.
As well as taking a laptop and iPhone they also took the dog who had recently given birth and was separated from her four puppies which were left behind.
But after neighbours spotted the suspicious activity the police were called and they tracked the raiders down to Brookes' house.
Fifi was found outside the property and returned home so she could be reunited with her pups.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how Brookes stole the mobile on Thursday August 29 last year.
He was in the town centre with his girlfriend when one of her pals left her £300 phone on top of her bag, which was next to them, while she left them for a short while.
When she returned she found it gone and Brookes later claimed it had been given to his girlfriend for safekeeping, but he sold it to his dealer for drugs.
Miss Hingston said in reality it was offered for sale to another friend of his, Nikita Beresford, after he knocked on her door in Dean Street.
"He told her 'I really need money for rent, do you want to buy this phone', and they agreed on £35 and she gave him the money and took the phone," she said.
Over the following days he started to pester Miss Beresford demanding she hand over more for the device, which she refused to do saying she had paid what was agreed.
On Sunday September 8 neighbours spotted some young men acting suspiciously in the garden of the house and noticed a brick had been thrown through the back door.
It was discovered it had been burgled and when the police went to the defendant's address they found the laptop and phone as well as Fifi from outside.
Brookes, of Sheppard Street, pleaded guilty to theft and burglary.
Chris Smyth, defending, said his client had started smoking cannabis when he was just nine years old and had been in trouble a number of times during his childhood.
Shortly after the offences he was put on a one year suspended sentence and he was doing well on that.
He said he had moved to Bournemouth after reconciling with his mum and had contact with his child, who had been taken into care.
Since moving away he said he had stopped taking drugs and was hoping to start at college as he tries to turn his life around.
Judge Douglas Field deferred passing sentence for six months to see if he can live up to his promises.
"You are a young man who in the past has got into quite a lot of trouble on a quite frequent basis," he said.
"You are at what we call the crossroads. You were in recent months put on a suspended sentence. You are performing quite well on that.
"You now have the added responsibility with a child. I think it is in the interests of justice to defer the final sentence to give you an opportunity to carry on with all the good intentions."
He said if he stayed off drugs and complied with the suspended sentence for six months he would not go to jail.