A PAIR of would-be thieves were caught after leaving their DNA on empty beer cans in a disused part of the Nestlé factory in York.

York Crown Court heard how Philip Alan Morgan, 27, and Thomas Paul Hardcastle, 25, found their way into the factory after other thieves had already broken into the site.

Both Hardcastle, of Beckfield Lane, York, and Morgan, of Jute Road, York, said they did not break in with the intention to steal metal, but admitted they would have taken items had they discovered any.

Geraldine Kelly, prosecuting, said: “Philip Morgan accepts that he entered the property on the sixth and the tenth of September, as a trespasser.

“On the sixth his DNA was detected on a can of lager on the fifth floor. On the tenth, DNA was detected by blood left at the scene.

“He gained entry by smashing a window on the first floor.”

She said Hardcastle had gone into the building on September 6 and that his DNA had been found on “cans of lager on various floors throughout the property”.

The pair were arrested in October, with Morgan initially denying he had ever been on the Nestlé site, but both eventually admitted intending to steal.

In mitigation, the court heard how both defendants were hard working but that Hardcastle had acted due to “financial difficulties”, while Morgan’s mother was described as being “to some degree financially dependent on him”.

Sentencing them both to a three-month curfew between the hours of 9pm and 6am, Judge James Hill QC told them they were lucky the prosecution decided to accept their guilty pleas to burglary with intent to steal rather then an original, more serious charge of conspiracy.

He said: “Stealing scrap metal is something which is all too prevalent these days.

“It’s not a victimless crime and somebody has to bear the burden – usually with increased insurance premiums.”

As well as the curfews, Morgan was ordered to pay £1,500 costs due to his late guilty plea, while Hardcastle was ordered to pay £750.