A WIRRAL gardener who stole from customers, including a neighbour, has been jailed for more than four years.

A judge told David Brandreth that his behaviour involved a serious breach of trust and that he had taken jewellery with sentimental value.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had also manipulated one of his victims by saying he was upset about his wife losing a baby and then sneaking into an upstairs room and stealing £1,500 cash.

The money belonged to the Moreton Gardening Club as the householder is the treasurer and she was minding the cash.

She has since replaced it at her own expense, explained Michael Stephenson, prosecuting.

He said that if it was true about the loss of the baby, as claimed, it was a "despicable" way to manipulate the emotions of the victim.

Brandreth, 31, a father-of-three, from Barnston Road in Moreton, pleaded guilty to four burglaries. He was jailed for four years and eight months.

Mr Stephenson said that the first offence took place on June 29 this year while Brandreth was gardening at premises in Wimbrick Hey, Moreton. He was allowed in to use the toilet and stole two gold rings.

He returned on July 1 and after distracting the woman occupant by asking for a glass of water he stole gold jewellery from a display case in the living room and pawned the items.

The woman alerted the police and his fingerprint was found on the glass.

On July 7 while Brandreth was gardening at a house in Lang Lane, West Kirby, the householder was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Brandreth took the opportunity to steal boxed watches from the garage which he also pawned, though four were later recovered.

The next day he stole the cash belonging to the gardening club.

He told the occupant he was upset about the lost baby and needed time for a smoke in the garden and then asked to use the toilet and used the opportunity to steal.

The court heard that he has previous convictions including stealing jewellery from a house where he was staying overnight.