A TEENAGER has been jailed after stealing thousands of pounds-worth of gold coins.

Leslie Dennis Marsh, 19, admitted a single charge of burglary.

Dorchester Crown Court heard that Marsh broke into a house in Winfrith Newburgh and took 33 Krugerrands, South African gold coins, worth £23,760.

Prosecutor Rob Welling said: “He left his home address, which at the time was in Boscombe, and travelled 20 miles to the victim’s home.

“It’s clear that Marsh knew he would be out and knew what he was looking for.

“In a briefcase in a wardrobe he found the Krugerrands.”

He attempted to exchange them for cash the day after the burglary at a jewellery store, the court heard, but staff raised the alarm and Marsh was arrested by police.

Mr Welling added: “He was told that they would pay only by cheque or bank transfer.

“Credit is due to the owner as they felt there was something very wrong about him, and they stalled him and called the police.”

Mr Welling told the court Marsh, of New Borough in Wimborne, ‘ransacked’ the victim’s house and broke a door to gain entry.

In mitigation, Nigel Mitchell said any burglary offence would lead to breaking a door or a window to gain entry.

He added: “It’s obvious that a young man such as he has clearly been put up to this.

“Ringing up the jeweller’s and saying what he had was bound to ring alarm bells.

“He is young, inexperienced, and perhaps naive.”

The items had been fully recovered by police, Mr Mitchell said.

Giving Marsh credit for his early guilty plea, Judge Roger Jarvis sentenced him to 20 months in jail.

He noted that it is the third occasion the defendant has been before the courts on matters of burglary and said Marsh had not complied with supervision app-ointments while the pre-sentence report was being prepared.

He added: “That does not give me confidence that you truly understand the serious position you are in.”