A BRIDGWATER man who broke into an award-winning local butchers in the build-up Christmas has been spared jail.

Mark Newbury, 36, of Royal Drive was one of two thieves who broke into Regency Butchers in Rhode Lane overnight on December 12, however Newbury's accomplice managed to escape.

The callous thieves cut into the mesh fencing to gain access to the premises and the pair planned to steal a large quantity of meat and cheese worth in excess of £4,000, and also stole £600 cash from the till.

Regency Butchers was ransacked leaving damage to locks, fridges and much of the produce.

The pair wore ski masks and balaclavas and had bolt croppers and a crowbar during the pre-meditated break-in.

When the police arrived Newbury attempted to escape through the front door but was thwarted by the metal shutters and arrested, the court heard.

Butcher Eugene Gainard was forced to close the shop for two days, in the middle of what should have been his busiest time of the year.

Newbury appeared for sentencing at Taunton Crown Court on Friday.

Defending, William Light said despite Newbury's long track record of dishonesty and shoplifting offences, he had managed to stay out of trouble for three years before this incident.

Sentencing, Judge David Ticehurst said: "You have committed crimes since the age of 13, and staying out of trouble these last three years is maybe the best thing you have done.

"The effect of this burglary was dreadful. It was carried out at the butcher's busiest time of year and what is meant to be a time of goodwill.

"I have to work out the best way to deal with you. I could give you three years imprisonment, but giving you full credit for your guilty plea that would be reduced to two years, of which you would serve half, meaning you would be in jail for 12 months - but that would mean Mr Gainard received no compensation.

"As such I will suspend the sentence for two years, and you will pay £600 in compensation.

"Commit any further offences and you will be sent to prison."