A seasoned burglar left his DNA at the scene of break-in at a Bicester outdoor clothing shop.

Coran Bateman, 35, and his accomplices swiped more than £1,000 in cash together with seven hoodies.

The thief was said to have been on a suspended sentence for trying to burgle a Bicester chip shop when he broke into outdoor retailer Tog 24 and car suspension firm Spax Performance last autumn.

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Prosecutor Alice Aubrey-Fletcher told Oxford Crown Court that the manager of Tog 24 in Oxford Road, which has since shut down, came into work on the morning of September 14 last year to find the back office had been ‘turned over’.

A safe, containing more than £1,020, was missing. Also taken were key fobs, a pair of shoes, seven hooded jumpers, three fleeces, and a £12 t-shirt.

A metal bracket used in the break-in was found to have Bateman’s DNA on it.

Two months later, on November 15, Bateman and another man left empty handed during a break-in at Spax Performance, a car suspension company in the Launton Business Centre, Murdock Road.

They prised open a pair of double doors to the business, bending them out of shape. Nothing was taken, but the thieves caused £3,000-worth of damage.

When he was arrested last December, Bateman denied that the green vegetative substance found on him was cannabis – suggesting instead that it was hemp, a plant in the same species as cannabis but with much lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol.

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Bateman, of Mill Close, Charlton on Otmoor, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to non-dwelling burglary and possession of cannabis.

The court heard he had 19 convictions on his record for 42 offences. He committed his first burglary in the early 2000s and when he carried out the 2021 burglaries was subject to a 20 week suspended sentence, imposed in February last year for attempted burglary of Papilion Fish Bar, Bicester, and going equipped for theft.

Mitigating, Gordana Austin said her client spent seven years working for the MOD in the 2000s until a crash on the roads left him with a broken back and shoulder. He became addicted to strong pain medication, lost his job and subsequently formed a class A drug habit.

He had been working as a delivery driver until he lost his job during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since being remanded in custody last year, he had done courses to address his issues with drug addiction. He had stable accommodation to return to when he was released from prison.

Jailing him for 16 months, Judge Nigel Daly said of the shop burglaries: “Not a huge amount of value in relation to the burglaries; nevertheless, they are an enormous nuisance to the people who are trying to run a business.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward