A burglar has been jailed after breaking into an antiques shop twice.

Richard Terence Cunniffe, aged 36 and of Alexandra Road in Bridport, smashed the windows of Bridport Antiques, in a courtyard off West Street, in the early hours of May 6 this year but left empty-handed.

Police were called and Cunniffe was arrested nearby. He was charged and released on bail.

He returned to the shop just hours later and proceeded to steal several items from the shop, including two bronzes.

He was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment at Bournemouth Crown Court after pleading guilty to two counts of burglary.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Jailed: Richard Cunniffe

Speaking after the hearing, Bridport Antiques owner, Richard Payne-Withers, said he felt ‘justice has been done.’

“I hope he has learnt the error of his ways,” he said. “The damage and the inconvenience of having to close the shop for a few days adds up alongside the long-term costs. The bronzes were returned but one was very severely damaged. It was worth about £4,000. It’s sad that someone has reverted to this. Why?”

Mr Payne-Withers says there have been other long-term effects. “It makes you paranoid,” he said. “If I get a phone call and there’s no caller ID, I wonder if it’s happened again because that’s how the police contacted us. You do become paranoid.”

The burglary meant Bridport Antiques remained closed during a hot and busy Bank Holiday – a time when Mr Payne-Withers was expecting more trade than usual.

Instead, he spent several day cleaning up his shop.

“It was horrible,” he said. “You spend so much time building something up – to then have to clean up mess like that is heart-breaking. It’s an invasion of your privacy.”