A MAN convicted over his involvement in two “fishing” burglaries, at nearby homes, was jailed for a total of six years and six months.

David Ian Hawkes was found hiding in an allotment and told police they would find no forensic evidence after a car taken from outside its owner’s home was found abandoned.

But a bamboo cane, gloves and a stocking mask were found nearby, all said to have been used in the burglaries a short distance away less than an hour earlier.

Durham Crown Court heard that Hawkes told police he ran from officers as he was acting as a decoy for an accomplice, who was on the run at the time.

The court was told he was also wearing gloves, despite it being dawn, on August 22, last year.

Penny Bottomley, prosecuting, said bamboo canes with sticky tape on the tips were placed through letterboxes of two homes at Biddick Woods, between Chester-le-Street and Shiney Row, at 4.15am and 4.30am.

Car keys were “fished” from one house enabling the burglars to drive off in a Ford Ka parked outside.

The Ka was abandoned in Hunter Street, Shiney Row, and two figures were seen running from the scene.

During a search, Hawkes was found in the allotment, off Larksfield Crescent.

The 35-year-old, of Havelock Court, Ford Estate, Sunderland, denied two burglary charges and one of taking a vehicle without consent.

But he was convicted on all three counts following unanimous jury verdicts, after a trial last month.

The court heard that Hawkes was subject to a suspended prison sentence, following a failed previous attempted burglary.

Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince imposed consecutive sentences for both of the latest burglaries as well as his previous suspended sentences.

He told Hawkes the only gap in his offending in recent years was during periods when he has been in custody.