A GREEN-FINGERED thief was caught red-handed by a neighbour stealing plants and flowers – to re-plant in his own garden.

Wayne Mail, 49, admitted stealing dozens of plants from council floral displays and from his neighbours’ gardens in East Yorkshire. He claimed he stole them to cheer up his sick mother.

His bizarre crime was rumbled after a suspicious neighbour set up a camera – and caught him casually strolling into the garden before carefully digging up the plants and placing them in a plastic bag and leaving.

He also stole plants from East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council floral displays, to replant them in his own garden, stealing two or three plants at a time, usually from big displays in the hope they would go unnoticed.

Beverley Magistrates yesterday gave Mail, of Hull Road, Anlaby, East Yorkshire, an 18-month community order, fined him £85 in costs and ordered him to pay the same amount to his victim. He had previously pleaded guilty to six offences of the theft of flowers and one of attempted theft of flowers.

Steve Munro, mitigating, said Mail was disgusted with his own actions and his remorse was genuine.

He said Mail was the sole carer for his mother after his father died a few years ago. “He stole the flowers to make the garden nice for his ailing mother.

“He wishes to do the best by his mother and remain trouble free.”

Mail also admitted dishonestly receiving stolen goods – a Black and Decker strimmer, a Marine motors British seagull outboard motor and green metal diesel can and a Black and Decker strimmer and a Flymo lawn mower, found by police when they searched the outhouses of his property.