AN ADDICT who twice stole fuel from a St Neots special school’s minibuses was caught by police when they retrieved DNA from a hosepipe he left at the scene.

Lee Andrews, 39, of Duck Lane, St Neots, climbed a fence at Samuel Pepys Special School, Cromwell Road, on two occasions between June 26 and June 29, carrying with him a 20 litre container, a length of hosepipe and a screw driver.

The two thefts, which caused £710 of damage to three vehicles, saw Andrews make off with about £90 worth of fuel and led to activities for children at the school being cancelled.

He appeared before magistrates on Thursday (July 11) where he pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and was given a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, as well as being ordered to pay £800 compensation to the school.

Paul Brown, prosecuting, said: "The defendant was identified because of the length of hose that was recovered from the property that he had used to extract the fuel and he admitted being responsible for both thefts.

"The minibuses are for the use of the school and having been damaged caused a great deal of disappointment and affected a number of others."

Andrews, who has a catalogue of theft offences on his record, was last released from prison at the beginning of the year and was serving a conditional discharge for stealing from Marks & Spencer in St Neots.

Elaine Havard, defending, said: "When he was released from custody he had outstanding fines and was very short of cash. The other aspect is that he has had a very serious drug addiction for a very long time. He says that he did not steal the fuel to buy drugs but because he did not have any money to eat."

It was also claimed in court that the Probation Service had washed its hands of Andrews, who it was said had failed to comply or engage with past attempts to rehabilitate him.

Sue Norton, chairman of magistrates, said: "This was obviously not a clever thing to do, you caused quite a bit of damage and caused a lot of inconvenience to the school and the pupils."

Andrews was also ordered to pay £800 to the school.