TWO men dubbed "serious nuisances" by a judge have both been jailed for nine months.

Geoffrey Edmondson, 31, and Mark Lambert, 36, had been under deferred sentence to see if they could stay out of trouble for five months but it was beyond them, said Judge Raymond Bennett.

He told the duo, who had broken into an unoccupied house and tried to help themselves to the fittings, that people who did that caused immense damage. However, he said they were in a different category to those who broke into occupied homes.

The judge added: "You are serious nuisances."

Edmondson, of Pine Street, Nelson, and Lambert, of Humphrey Street, Brierfield, had both admitted burglary with intent to steal, at Burnley Crown Court.

The court heard police arrived at the property on Leeds Road, Nelson. They heard a voice say: "Just leave it like that, we will come back for it later."

The defendants were shocked to find officers there. One of the pair came downstairs carrying a radiator and the other a box of Christmas decorations. A copper water boiler tank had been removed and water was dripping through the ceiling. On another occasion Lambert took £35 cash from a disabled pensioner in remission for cancer, and both men tried to break into another unoccupied house but were chased by police and arrested nearby. They also tried to help themselves to paving flags.

Mark Stuart, for Edmondson, said the defendant had not preyed on the sick or elderly. He had been drug-free for the first time in a long time. While he had been in custody, Edmondson's girlfriend and two children had lost their home due to a fire and he hoped to find them alternative accommodation on his release.

Defending Lambert, Paul Hague said he had offended within weeks of a deferred sentence and the court had no option but to send him to custody. Probation might have helped him more. Lambert had worked for himself in the scrap metal trade and his scavenging way of life had led him to transgress the boundaries.

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