A masked gang bungled an ‘inside job’ in a quiet Irthlingborough street after police caught them red-handed.
Stunned passers-by called police after seeing four Londoners burst out of a van wearing balaclavas and carrying baseball bats on a sleepy Tuesday lunchtime.
Northampton Crown Court heard the gang had come up with a hair-brained plot to steal drugs from a cannabis farm in the house in St Peter’s Way, just off High Street.
Oliver Moller, 25, from London, Ronnie McCarthy, 27, from Hackney, Paul Szendziel, 30, from Essendon in Hertfordshire and Leon Azille aka Johnson, 26, from Hackney pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal when they appeared before Her Honour Judge Lynn Tayton on Friday.
Prosecuting, John Hallissey said police responded to 999 calls from members of the public who saw the men at 1.15pm on April 3, 2012.
He said: “Officers saw Moller just inside one of the doors leading into the house.
“He had shopping bags containing cannabis plants,
“He pulled the balaclava from his face and tried to run.”
The police officers drew a taser and Moller was caught.
Azille smashed a ground-floor window and ran into High Street, climbing a fence and discarding a knuckle-duster before he was caught.
McCarthy, who had hired the van to drive to Northamptonshire in his own name, also climbed out of the window and hid in a bush but was caught by officers armed with a taser.
Szendziel ran out of a back door and over fences, ending up in the beer garden of the British Arms pub in Baker Street.
Officers tracked him to the pub and found him red-faced in the beer garden.
Mr Hallissey added: “When the officers went into the house they found one bedroom had been divided and half of the room was given over to cannabis production.
“There were three very shocked men in there.”
The court heard that those men were given community orders for the production of cannabis at an earlier hearing.
Because the cannabis growers had refused to co-operate with the police inquiry, the court heard they were unable to discover what had happened in the house.
But it was thought to have been an inside job, with one of the growers – unhappy to share his spoils – asking his friends from London to come and set-up an apparent theft.
Judge Tayton was told all the defendants apart from Azille had past convictions but since the crime all were settled in jobs.
She said that had the people in the house been willing to co-operate with the police, all would have been facing jail sentences of double figures.
“There is no evidence as to what went on inside that house,” said Judge Tayton.
“You travelled to this area in disguise and you were all armed.”
All four were given eight month jail sentences, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service.