East Sussex barn near A27 broken into with forklift truck

Police
Police

A barn in East Sussex near the A27 was broken into with a forklift truck as part of a botched burglary, a court has heard.

At Hove Crown Court on Thursday, Eli Cooper, 31, from South Coast Road, Peacehaven, and Tony Cooper, 26, from Selsfield Drive, Brighton, were sentenced for a string of crimes across East and West Sussex.

This included an incident on March 27 last year in Selmeston, East Sussex.

According to prosecutor Giles Morrison, at 4.55pm police received a call from the owner of New Barn Farm, near the A27, to say that burglars were using a forklift truck to force entry to the barn.

The barn was used as a lock-up for a large collection of old motorcycles, cars, engines and other items, the court heard.

Mr Morrison said the alarm was raised by a friend of the owner, who turned up at the farm to find a motorcycle parked on the track leading to the barn. It was later found to be stolen.

He then saw Tony and Eli emerge from the barn, at which point they fled into some nearby fields.

Police saw two males matching the description in rapeseed fields and officers told them to stay where they were, but they ran, this time into a meadow.

Several passing motorists at a road nearby notified officers that two males were approaching them asking for directions.

After a widespread search, police found the pair sitting on a bench outside Selmeston village hall, opposite a petrol station, covered in twigs and with dirty hands.

A small jewellery box containing some pearl necklaces was found in the meadow behind the rapeseed field by police – but the owner of the barn was not sure if it belonged to him, as he bought lots of things at car boot sales.

The pair were charged with burglary, and were sentenced yesterday at Hove Crown Court for a string of crimes.

Defending Eli, Alexandra Scott said her client, who has been in custody since his latest arrest, has been taking Spice, a ‘very destructive drug’, in prison. She said he ‘wasn’t getting the help he needed’ on the inside but was cooperating with Pavilions drug and alcohol service in Brighton, which was willing to offer him a detox programme.

She added that Tony was also ‘supremely motivated’ to carry out drug rehabilitation but was otherwise now in a stable relationship and training to become a plumber.

For all of his crimes, Judge David Rennie sentenced Eli to a two-year community order, with a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement. He has to go on a thinking skills programme, and was disqualified from driving for 18 months.

For all his crimes, Tony was sentenced to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years, a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement, and was disqualified from driving for 18 months.