A witness found himself at the centre of his own police enquiry – after stealing CS spray and handcuffs from a police station locker room.

Brazen Richard Fennell was giving a statement at Heckmondwike Police Station when he saw an opportunity to take them.

His solicitor Paul Blanchard was critical of the fact that the items had not been locked away.

Fennell, of Woodfield Road in Batley, pleaded guilty to theft when he appeared at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court.

Bill Astin, prosecuting, said that the 44-year-old was at the police station on August 4 to give a statement as a witness in a domestic assault.

He told the Huddersfield court: “He was taken to the interview room and the police officer left him alone.

“He’s then gone into the locker room and removed the police issue CS spray and handcuffs from an unlocked locker.

Fennell was caught after his DNA was found in the room.

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The items, worth £44, were not recovered.

The court heard that Fennell had a string of previous convictions.

These included a number of serious offences such as a wounding for which he spent six years in prison.

Paul Blanchard, mitigating, said: “Given his previous dealings with police the opportunity was too good for him.

“In reality these items – particularly the CS spray – should have been locked away rather than left in the locker room.”

District Judge Michael Hopkinson told Fennell: “This is a very cheeky offence to commit.

“You were in the police station for other matters where no doubt you required the assistance of police.

“You bit the hand that fed you.”

Fennell was given a conditional discharge for 18 months.

He has to pay compensation for the stolen items as well as £85 costs and £20 victim surcharge.