A GROUNDWORKER who helped burgle a warehouse has avoided a prison sentence.

Harry Bloyce and Liam Martin, who were both 18 at the time, raided the Commodity Centre in Great Braxted in July 2020 after forcing open a window.

No alarm system was set and the two broke into filing cabinets and a safe before stealing IT equipment, cameras and a jar of money, a court heard.

They then loaded £26,191 of goods into a Transit van which they took using a set of keys from inside the office.

Free - Harry Bloyce, left, was spared a jail termFree - Harry Bloyce, left, was spared a jail term (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

After a member of staff at the business reported the burglary, police used ANPR cameras to track the Transit van which was spotted on the A12.

Investigators traced DNA prints back to the two defendants, with Martin later admitting one charge of burglary.

Bloyce, who had no previous convictions, denied burglary and the case was set to go to trial before the defendant changed his plea at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The court heard a victim impact statement read out by Sharon Hall, prosecuting, on behalf of staff and employees at the Commodity Centre.

It read: “This has left lasting emotional scars on all of us – the sense of violation and vulnerability it has caused is palpable."

A probation officer told the court it was Martin's idea to burgle the warehouse and that Bloyce “went along with it”.

He said: “He says he knew quite quickly something was not quite right.

Foolish - Chair of the bench Martin Stuchfield said Harry Bloyce had been 'stupid'Foolish - Chair of the bench Martin Stuchfield said Harry Bloyce had been 'stupid' (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

“He didn’t stand to gain anything for it other than the regret and trouble he has got into.”

The court was told Bloyce, now 23, had since completed an apprenticeship and had been working in France, putting up fencing ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Chair of the bench Martin Stuchfield told the defendant he had been “very stupid, unwise, and immature” in his actions.

Bloyce, of Elm Close, Tiptree, was sentenced to 250 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £500 compensation.