TWO bungling burglars were caught red-handed when they drove back past the shop they had just raided.

Martin Attrill and Bobby Slater drove past Medina Stores, off Winchester Road, just 20 minutes after they had broken in and stolen thousands of pounds of cigarettes and tobacco.

Driving in the same van they had used in the raid, they were forced to stop at traffic lights next to the store.

Police, who minutes earlier had inspected the store’s CCTV, spotted the van and recognised Attrill and Slater.

The pair were then arrested.

During the duo’s sentencing on Monday, Attrill’s defence solicitor described the raid as “bungled”.

Both Attrill, 43, of Laundry Road, Southampton and Slater, 37, of Wonston Road, Southampton, pleaded guilty to burglary and were given suspended sentences.

The court heard how the raid took place around 11.40pm on August 28.

Prosecutor Leigh Hart said the pair were seen on the store’s CCTV arriving in a white van.

She said the pair used a crowbar to break open the front door of the shop.

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The court heard that once inside the pair stole approximately £4,000 worth of cigarettes – though this figure was disputed by both men.

The pair then left, leaving behind their crowbar at the scene.

Ms Hart said police arrived soon after the break-in and inspected the store’s CCTV.

She said: “Outside the store a van is seen driving along Winchester Road. It stops for a red light at traffic lights opposite the store.

“The police recognised the two males in the vehicle as the two men on the CCTV and both were arrested.”

Ms Hart said around £1,000 worth of cigarettes were recovered from the van.

Both men said police had recovered all of the stolen cigarettes – though the shop’s owner estimated he had around £4,000 of tobacco in the store at the time.

Mitigating for Attrill, Jamie Gammon said the raid did not carry the hallmarks of a professional burglary.

He said: “They left the crowbar at the scene. That is not what someone would expect of professional burglars.

“They were arrested near to the scene not very long after. It seems to be a bungled effort.”

He added that Attrill, who is unemployed, had struggled with depression following the breakdown of his marriage.

Mitigating for Slater, Berenice Mulvanny said her client had shown empathy and remorse for his actions.

She said Slater, a bouncer for venues, including Oceana, would lose his licence if jailed.

In sentencing, Judge Nicholas Rowland described the pair’s efforts as “amateurish”.

He said: “You are middle-aged men making your first appearance at the crown court. [The burglary] was amateurish, leaving the crowbar behind at the scene and being outside in full view of the police.”

Both men were sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, as well as 180 hours of unpaid work each.

Slater was also ordered to pay £1,200 in compensation to the shop’s owner.