A TEENAGE dog-napper has been spared jail after a judge gave him a chance to prove he had turned his life around after becoming a father.
Justin Brookes pinched Jack Russell terrier Fifi, herself a new mum, when he burgled the home of her owner in a revenge attack.
Earlier this year Judge Douglas Field put off passing sentence saying Brookes would not be jailed if he stayed off drugs and complied with an earlier suspended sentence.
Now after ruling the 19-year-old had done just enoughto avoid custodial sentence, he told him to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
And he warned that if he failed to comply with the order he will be back before the court and in serious risk of custody.
Brookes stole Fifi from a woman because he thought she hadn't paid him enough for a mobile phone he sold her, even though he had stolen it from someone else.
The teenager stole the £300 phone from a friend of his girlfriend in the town centre in late August last year.
A few days later he went to the house of a friend on Dean Street telling her he needed money for rent and offered to sell her the phone.
They agreed on £35, which she paid him.
But over the following days he returned demanding that she give him more money, which she refused to do.
On Sunday, September 8 neighbours spotted some young men acting suspiciously at the property and realised a break-in was taking place.
As well as taking a laptop and iPhone, Brookes and his friends also took Fifi who had recently given birth and was separated from her four puppies, which were left behind.
Police tracked the raiders down to Brookes' house, where Fifi was found outside.
They returned her to her owner so she could be reunited with her pups.
Brookes, of Sheppard Street, admitted 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.
He said shortly after the offences he was put on a one-year suspended sentence and he was doing well on that.
Mr Smyth said he had moved to Dorset where he had been reconciled with his family and was now looking to go to college.