TWO “professional” burglars caught red-handed through the actions of a boatman have been jailed.

Michael Richard Bray, 39, and Ryan David Cummings, 25, lead a double life, York Crown Court heard.

Both have or have had legitimate work helping to maintain the country’s roads. But they are also criminals who targeted a waterways organisation’s depot and tried to make off with vehicles and power tools.

Carl Fitch, prosecuting, said: “Property in the region of £8,000 would have been stolen had they not been stopped by the police and caught red-handed.”

The Honorary Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC, said of the burglary: “It was steeped in professionalism.”

To carry it out, Bray had travelled “a considerable distance” to Hensall from his home at Trentside Trailer Park at Burringham near Scunthorpe, and Cummings, of George Street, Snaith, had used his local knowledge.

“It is perfectly plain to me you were after valuable equipment,” he said and jailed both for eight months each.

Bray will serve an extra four months as he was on a suspended prison sentence at the time.

Both men pleaded guilty to burglary.

Mr Fitch said a man on a barge alerted police to the pair’s activities at Hensall, near Goole, at 5.30pm on May 21.

They had used an angle grinder to break through an expensive security lock at the Canal and Rivers Trust depot.

By the time police arrived, they had also loaded up a quad bike worth £3,000 onto one of the depot’s trailers, also worth £3,000.

They had hitched the trailer to their flatbed truck, and collected together lawn mowers, strimmers and other tools ready to take away.

For Bray, Chris Morton said he had been a traffic control safety officer earning about £30,000 a year, though he was currently unemployed. He suffered from depression and anxiety and had spent two weeks in hospital in June 2016.

Although Bray had previous convictions for burglary, the last one had been 17 years earlier.

Cummings, who didn’t have a lawyer, said he worked for Highways England creating smart motorways.

Mr Fitch said Bray had 23 convictions and was on a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years for having indecent images of children when he carried out the Hensall raid.

Cummings had 13 previous convictions. In February 2016, he had been fined £1,300 for professional fly-tipping.

Bray initially tried to claim someone else had done the angle grinding but when the judge said he needed Bray to say so under oath from the witness box, Bray declined. The judge sentenced the pair on the basis they had been the ones who had broken the depot’s security lock.