A FATHER-OF-TWO who caused more than £30,000 worth of damage to a business by trying to ram a stolen pickup truck through a security gate has been jailed.

Burnley Crown Court heard Jeremiah Cunningham had broken into AAA Road Rescue in Read Street, Clayton-le-Moors, on March 7, last year.

Emma Kehoe, prosecuting, said the business owner had left the site securely locked, but had left a Volkswagen Amarok in the yard with the keys in the ignition. When the owner returned the next day he found the vehicle had been badly damaged.

Ms Kehoe said: “He went to the CCTV system and observed the defendant getting into the vehicle and drive it a number of times into the perimeter fence. He tried to get it out of the yard.”

Ms Kehoe said forensic examinations of a shoelace found near the truck led to the arrest of 26-year-old Cunningham.

She said he answered no comment to questions asked during a police interview.

Cunningham, whose children are aged seven and four, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking.

He has 10 previous convictions for 15 offences.

In a victim impact statement read out in court by Ms Kehoe, the business owner said: “I have had to double up on the security staff on nights.

“I have had to have a huge upgrade on my CCTV system which includes seven cameras, as well a a panic button for staff. There was more than £30,000 worth of damage caused in relation to this. This caused a devastating financial impact on my business.”

He added it was heart-breaking to watch Cunningham “wreck” the business.

Clare Thomas, defending, said around the time of the offence her client had briefly split from his wife and had started drinking heavily.

She said: “He began behaving extremely foolishly.

“He accepts he has no excuse for the way he behaved.

“He’s ashamed of himself.”

Cunningham, of Wakefield Road, Wakefield, who is currently serving a prison sentence for dangerous driving which he was convicted of in September, was jailed for 10 months and disqualified from driving for 19 months.

Judge Sara Dodd said: “You are still a young man but you have a significant number of convictions.

“You have been before court on a number of occasions.”