A BURGLAR who put the lives and safety of the public at risk by breaking into Newent Fire Station and stealing vital emergency equipment has been jailed for three and a half years.

The actions of Jack McIntosh, 35, of High Street, Tredworth effectively disabled the town’s only fire engine for 15 hours.

He raided the fire station in December 2020, when he also committed two other burglaries and stole £2,000 worth of tools and £25,000 worth of motorcycles and bicycles, Gloucester Crown Court was told.

He admitted all three offences as well as a burglary in April 2020 when he and four other men raided the Co-op store in Longford, nr Gloucester, and stole £2,000 worth of tobacco, cigarettes and spirits.

Sentencing McIntosh, the judge, Recorder Richard Mawhinney said the fire station burglary on December 4 2020 was the most serious of the offences.

“During the burglary the station’s alarm system was disabled, which could have led to very substantial risk or loss to the public had there been a call out,” he said.

“The station’s only fire engine was effectively off grid for fifteen hours and you thereby put the safety and possibly the lives of the public at risk.”

The Recorder said McIntosh caused damage to the fire station in breaking in and he then took all the vital cutting and lifting equipment from the vehicle.

“Staff at the fire station were disgusted, bewildered and upset that burglars had targeted the organisation which exists to protect the public from harm and potential death,” added Recorder Mawhinney.

During the same period in December 2020, he said, McIntosh had also broken into a detached garage at the home of an elderly man in Newent and stolen £2,200 worth of tools and equipment including a hedge trimmer which had great sentimental value to the owner because it had belonged to his deceased son.

The householder had been ‘shocked and angry’ by the raid and had since been feeling ‘on edge and anxious’ and had installed extra security equipment at his own expense, the Recorder said.

Recorder Mawhinney told McIntosh there had to be an immediate prison term in his case because of the number and seriousness of his offences.

He passed a jail term of 28 months for the Newent fire station raid, nine months consecutively for the motorcycle and bike burglary, two months consecutively for the tools burglary and three months consecutively for the Co-op raid.

But he told McIntosh that the 464 days he has been on tagged home curfew while awaiting sentence will be deducted from the time he spends in custody, meaning he can expect to be released on parole in just a few months.

McIntosh had 28 previous convictions on his record for more than 50 offences.

For McIntosh, barrister Matt Jackson asked the court not to jail him immediately but to pass a suspended sentence so he could benefit from the offer of mental health treatment. That would be of greater benefit to the public than locking him up again, argued Mr Jackson.

He pointed out that the cases before the court today all dated back to 2020 and McIntosh had not offended since.

McIntosh was permitted to speak directly to the judge from the dock and said “I apologise to the victims for what I did. I am also sorry, basically, for wasting people’s time.

“I have turned my life around and this is the way I want to go now. I have got the opportunity of mental health help. It has taken 35 years to get this little bit of help and I just hope and pray it will help me.”