A FATHER and son teamed up to steal thousands of pounds worth of power tools from private land across Amesbury and Tidworth to cover utility bills.

Sam Cooper, 45, and his son Dillon, who was just 16, at the time were involved in the overnight burglary and attempted burglary incidents between June 19 and 22 2019.

Sam Cooper admitted to breaking into Watergate Farm in Amesbury and the Veolia Treatment Plant in Tidworth and stealing a pressure washer worth £1,500 and power tools valued at more than £3,000 because he was struggling to pay a ‘huge gas bill’.

Meanwhile, Dillon Cooper, now 18, pleaded guilty to attempting entry to Ratfyn Substation in Tidworth, with the intent to steal, but entry could not be gained.

Winchester Crown Court heard today (Friday, September 3) how full-time carer Sam has faced 20 previous convictions, but it was a first time offence for his son, who is currently unemployed.

Puneet Grewa, prosecuting, said: “This case involves three burglaries and an attempted burglary.

“The crown submits that, while there was no victim on the premises, there is damage, and these were burglaries which were planned.”

However, Francisa Da Costa, defending Sam Cooper, argued that “any vandalism is minor” and that “there was no trauma, no victim present, no violence.”

The court was told that Sam Cooper has had 20 previous convictions, mostly for minor assault and theft offences, but has had no other offences since 2015.

In mitigation, Ms Da Costa added: “A huge gas bill came in that there simply was not the funds to cover it at home. Mr Cooper took the opportunity to make some easy money and now accepts that that was wrong.

“Mr Cooper is reticent - he indicated that he was a lookout, and did not go inside, but did not want to give further details. He has not had any other offences since 2015 and one of the reasons for that is because he has been ignoring phone calls from people who he was in touch with in the past.”

Ms Da Costa added that her client is a full-time carer for his sister, who is registered blind and lives with their elderly mother. He receives a carer allowance and housing support, but is otherwise low on income.

She continued: “He has three sons, one appears in court with him today but the other two are in full-time education and he supports them through this.”

The court then heard how Dillon Cooper, who was 16 at the time of the offence, is “a bit lost” and hoping to attend college to get on a good course in life.

Berenice Mulvanny, defending Dillon Cooper, said: “He was only 16 at the time. He has no further offending and was of previous good character.”

Ms Mulvanny added that she was disappointed that the pre-sentence report did not recommend rehabilitation activity days, due to her client’s low risk of reoffending.

She said: “Dillon has some difficulties with his reading and writing. He is a bit lost at the moment. He wants to go to college and wants to be a mechanic. It seems some rehabilitation activity days would be useful for him at such a crucial stage in his life.”

Sentencing the pair, The Recorder of Salisbury His Honour Judge Andrew Barnett said: “It’s quite clear to me that this was an outing, in which others took part, but I am confining my punishment to the things you have pleaded guilty to.”

Handing Sam Cooper ten month concurrent sentences for each offence, suspended for two years, he continued: “[Your offending] seems to have stopped in 2015 which for a man of your age is a good sign. This will hang over your head for the next two years and if you are stupid enough to committ ny other offences you will be brought back to court.”

Sam Cooper will also have to complete 15 rehabilitation activity days, and is on a two-month curfew between 9pm and 6am.

His son, Dillon, was handed 80 hours of community service.

Judge Barnett added: “I hope this court and no other court will ever see the two of you again.”

A third defendant, 48-year-old Liberty Cooper, pleaded guilty to a fourth, linked charge of trespass with intent to steal at the Bulford Transmitter Site in Amesbury. However, he is currently in custody on separate, shoplifting offences, and so his case was adjourned so that all matters could be dealt with together at a later date.