A JUDGE took pity on a bungling burglar who spent 14 hours hiding in a loft after crashing through a store roof in the middle of the night.
To avoid capture, forklift driver Mark Roddis climbed back above the shop and made peepholes in the ceiling, so he could observe staff below.
When he thought staff had left at the end of the day, the 28-year-old dropped down again - only to find himself trapped in a storeroom.
Sheffield Crown Court heard the gambling addict raided the store to try and stave off his £27,000 debts.
But Judge Alan Goldsack allowed Roddis to walk free with a suspended jail term saying: “Given the unusual circumstances of these offences, I don’t think there is any benefit to the public in actually sending you to prison.”
Roddis, from Dinnington, admitted burglary and possessing a bladed article.
David Wain, prosecuting, said Roddis, of Wentworth Way, targeted Heron Foods, Dinnington, on Wednesday, October 19, at about 4am.
He climbed onto the roof, made a hole and jumped down - but crashed through plasterboard into the store.
He activated an alarm and decided the best way to escape was to hide back in the loft.
The keyholder quickly followed by police arrived. They found the hole in the ceiling and searched the store, but could not find any intruder.
Mr Wain said Roddis remained in the loft all day watching the store.
When he thought the staff had left after the shop closed at 6pm, he dropped down, only to set off an alarm.
Staff found him and police were called again.
Roddis handed over a bag containing a burglary kit with a knife and admitted his guilt in an interview.
The court heard he caused £2,396 of damage to the store.
Dermot Hughes, mitigating, said: “He thought the best time to get away was when everybody had left. He wanted to avoid causing any upset.”
Roddis was given 30 weeks in prison suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work.