A “PROFESSIONAL” burglar who was a part of a masked gang that smashed their way into a jewellery shop with sledgehammers, stealing £111,000 worth including a huge haul of Pandora jewellery, has been jailed.

Samuel Peter Boylan, of Honeysuckle Road, Bassett, was sentenced to three years behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of burglary at Southampton Crown Court yesterday.

Boylan, who was handed the jail term on his 28th birthday, was also found not guilty for a charge of robbery.

On March 11, 2016, three masked men forced their way into Allum and Sidaway Jewellers, in Ringwood, before stealing a huge haul of Pandora charms.

The following day three masked men robbed a cash-in-transit security van outside Shirley Santander, in the High Street. A security guard was attacked with a wooden stick and a cash box containing £42,000 of dyed notes was stolen.

Police connected the incidents when the empty cash box was found discarded by a road next to a crowbar and three small Pandora charms which matched the description of some of the missing jewellery.

The 28-year-old, who refused to identify his accomplices, admitted to taking part in the burglary on the jewellers but said he knew nothing about the robbery.

The court heard Boylan, who was seen the day before the burglary doing "reconnaissance work" at the store, had said there was actually four of them involved in the incident, with the extra man being a get-away driver.

The jury were told the men went to the store equipped with a sledgehammer, axe and crowbar.

Afterwards, the gang split the loot up – Boylan owed one of the men money so gave him most of his share to settle the debt. When leaving the man put both their shares in Boylan's rucksack and took the bag with him.

The court heard the defendant had said he then spent the night of the security van robbery (March 17) at home, although the jury were told the father-of-one's DNA was found on the cash box and the crowbar which was found with it.

But Boylan denied any involvement and said the crowbar had been in the car the night before, which was how his DNA came to be on it.

He said he had also not realised that he had left his hat and gloves in the rucksack with the loot the other man took away.

He claimed the three accomplices must have then used the equipment the next day which is how his DNA was found on the cash box.

In mitigation for the burglary charge, Peter Asteris said Boylan had a history of mental health issues and depression as well as a previous addiction to Spice - also known as Skunk.

"When he gets out he wants to stay clean... He has asked for a short enough sentence that he will still get to see his daughter grow up and a long enough one that he can make sure he can stay clean," he added.

Judge Peter Henry said: "You're 28-years-old today – in one sense you have had a birthday present in that the jury have acquitted you for robbery but you have to be sentenced for burglary.

"You have, sadly, an appalling record, 25 previous convictions for 63 offences starting in 2000.

"They were mostly public order and violence offences at the beginning but it was not long before you embarked on your career as a professional burglar.

"I accept you have mental health problems and that some of the reason you burgle things is to fund your drug problem.

"I just hope that when you come out we don't continually see you in the future."