Two men have been jailed for their part in the theft of a mini-digger in Claygate.

Carl Richardson, 33, and Neil Offen, 37, were both sentenced to prison at Guildford Crown Court on Thursday, April 10.

Two other defendants, Matthew Eastwood and John Wenman, were given suspended prison sentences.

The case related to the theft of a digger from a property off Oaken Lane, Claygate, on April 18, 2013.

The thieves smashed a car window, released the handbrake and pushed it into a garage door to get at the Bobcat digger, which they then put into a van and drove off.

Later that morning, the men were spotted swapping the number plates on the van.

Police later stopped the vehicle and arrested the four defendants.

Both the digger from Claygate and a second digger stolen in December in London were found inside.

Richardson, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two counts of handling the stolen diggers, while Offen, of Coverts Road, Claygate, admitted handling stolen number plates.

The court heard on Thursday how both defendants had a long history of drug use.

But it was only in recent years they began offending, when both became unemployed.

This was Richardson’s first criminal offence at the age of 32, the court heard, although he has since been convicted of a series of lead thefts, including an estate agents in Chobham and at Tolworth Girls’ School.

He told both police and his defence counsel Michael Green that he wanted to go to prison, after being thrown out of his home by his mother. Mr Green said his client was a qualified electrician who had worked most of his life.

Mr Green said: “He has struggled for many years with a drug problem but by and large that’s a problem he’s been able to manage because he’s been in employment.

"Regrettably, we get to a point in 2012 and 2013 when he loses that work, his relationship came to an end and he relapsed.”

Defending Offen, Ben Hall said his client, who worked as a handyman on building sites, began offending when he lost his job as a result of his drug addiction.

As well as the digger offence, Offen had been sentenced to 10 weeks in prison last year for attempted theft, and had also pleaded guilty to burgling his cousin’s house in Coverts Road, Claygate, while her 10-year-old son was inside.

Both men had behaved well in custody while awaiting sentence, the court heard, embarking on education and rehabilitation programmes.

Judge Neil Stewart sentenced Richardson to 10 months in prison for handling stolen goods, and a further four months for the lead theft from Tolworth Girls’ School.

Offen was jailed for a month for handling stolen number plates, but received a further 10 months for the burglary.

Meanwhile Eastwood, 19, of Ronmore Road, Dorking, and Wenman, 21, of no fixed address, were both spared jail.

Eastwood, the only defendant to plead guilty to all four charges of theft, criminal damage and two counts of handling stolen goods, had become a teetotal church-goer since the offence, and had set up his own registered roofing business.

He was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and a community order of 150 hours’ unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £550 in compensation.

Wenman, who pleaded guilty to theft, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, plus 180 hours of unpaid work.

He too was ordered to pay £550 in compensation.