A MAN who was caught with a load of stolen copper piping while on a suspended sentence for shoplifting has again been spared jail, receiving a second suspended sentence after a judge said it 'seemed as if he had turned a corner'.

Police looking into a number of burglaries at rural farms tracked down Christopher Moran's car after it had been seen parked in a field around the time of the raids.

While the 28-year-old had not been involved in the break-ins he was found to have a load of stolen copper in the back of his vehicle.

James Bromage, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court officers were investigating the burglaries in the Lyneham area in mid-November last year.

"The defendant's motor vehicle, a black Volkswagen, was noticed by a local resident on November 11 parked in a field in the early hours of the morning" he said,

It had been reported to the police and on November 15 officers spotted the car on police cameras and stopped it.

In the rear they found a hot water tank and, in two heavy nylon bags, copper piping which may have come from an outhouse on a farm.

Moran, of Cricklade Road, Swindon, pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and being in breach of a suspended sentence.

Two counts of burglary and one of theft were dropped and left to lie on file.

The court heard that in August last year he was given a 12-week jail term suspended for a year by magistrates for a spate of shoplifting.

Then he led a gang which went to Chippenham over three days targeting clothes stores and shops selling alcohol.

Moran would stay in the changing room while the other two brought him men’s clothing and he removed the security tags.

They stole £63 worth of wine and cakes from Iceland in Market Street, and clothing worth £175 from New Look, Borough Parade, on one day and a further £116.92 the next.

The gang also went to Evesham, Worcestershire, and tried to make off with £288 worth of alcohol from Tesco, but were caught.

Simon Goodman, defending, said his client had a long history of offending but had been out of trouble for a year now.

Although he was qualified with a degree in graphic design he is now working delivering coal and was in a stable relationship.

Passing sentence Judge Tim Mousley QC said "You pleaded guilty to this offence of handling stolen goods.

"It was an offence committed in November 2016 when you were found in possession of a copper hot water tank and two bags of copper piping.

"You are to be sentenced on the basis that you collected them from a friend in Lyneham and you were to sell them the next day at a scrap yard.

"This alone would probably not attract a period of imprisonment. What counts against you are your previous convictions and the breach of the suspended sentence.

"It seems to me that the appropriate sentence is to imposed a further sentence of imprisonment but to suspend it for a period.

"Not withstanding your appalling record for shoplifting offences and failing to comply with court orders it seems you have turned a corner."

He imposed a four month jail term suspended for a year with 150 hours of unpaid work and £150 costs.