AN Ellesmere Port man who damaged a JCB digger at a building site has been ordered to pay £750 compensation.

Scott Earlam, 44, of Sutton Way, Great Sutton, pleaded guilty at Chester Magistrates Court on Friday, July 3 to criminal damage.

Prosecuting, Alan Currums said the offence happened on December 18 last year when Earlam damaged the JCB digger belonging to Cadent Gas Works in Cromwell Road.

A site worker had gone to Earlam, who was with a dog and said he had locked his keys inside.

Earlam did not provide any identification and checks showed he was not an employee.

The digger had damage to the control panel, where a control lever had been broken "clean off" and a dial was broken.

CCTV evidence showed Earlam was responsible for the damage, which was estimated at £1,000.

He had previous convictions for low-level offending, but nothing of this type, Mr Currums added.

Defending, Peter Barnett said Earlam had a very positive pre-sentence report.

Earlam had reduced his drug intake since the incident, which he could not remember due to the drugs, and had been dealing with a number of medical issues including pain in his legs and blood clots, for which he had now finished treatment.

Magistrates put Earlam on a 12-month community order, to feature 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and a six-month drug rehabilitation programme.

He must obey an 8pm-8am curfew for two months and pay £750 compensation.

Due to the compensation cost, magistrates did not impose court costs or a victim surcharge.