A MAN who took a Ring Doorbell door camera from a property after the occupier had been assaulted by an armed “vigilante” group was sentenced in court.

John Stewart, 60, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday, March 5 after he had pleaded guilty to the “very unusual” theft which took place on January 6 last year.

Stewart had taken the camera from the address near to his flat on Edgerton Street, New Brighton, and disposed of it while acting in the capacity of “caretaker” for the property.

This was after the occupier, the “complainant” in the case, had been arrested following a visit by an “armed” vigilante group over matters “not pursued” following “serious allegations”.

Derek Jones, prosecuting, explained the “very unusual” circumstances of the offence.

He said: “There is a basis of plea accepted by the prosecution.” Mr Jones said Stewart had said “the landlord was away at the time of the incident and “in his absence” he was asked to “take necessary action to look after the property”.

He said the “police had occasion to attend the property” and that the “complainant” had been “assaulted”.

“The police arrested the complainant as a result of an allegation” and he was “no longer resident at the property and had collected his belongings”

Mr Jones added: “Acting in a capacity of effectively caretaker”, Stewart “accepted (he)  entered the property” and “took” the camera.

He said Stewart accepted “it didn’t belong to (him)” and that he “didn’t have the right to take the camera and dispose of it”.

The court heard the incident which saw the complainant arrested had seen a “large group of men, some armed” attend his property and “bearing that in mind, the defendant believed the complainant had left it wasn’t unreasonable of him to enter the flat as a caretaker to change the locks”.

It was added he “didn’t realise (the complainant) had his own ring doorbell” and “it shows him (Stewart) take the camera” and “put it into a bag”.

When police later attended, they found it “damaged” in a “bin bag at the front of the property”.

Mr Jones added: “The defendant was interviewed and accepted what he’d done” and had “panicked when he saw the camera”.

The court was told Stewart had a previous conviction for theft dating back to 1985 and in 2015 was convicted of a “customs offence” over “evading tax” after “importing cigarettes”.

Defending Stewart, Chris McMaster said the case was a “very unusual set of circumstances” and that his client had been “seeking help” over “drug misuse” and for his “mental health”.

Passing sentence, Judge David Potter, said he was ”satisfied” that there was a case for him to order a “drug treatment requirement”.

Judge Potter gave Stewart a community order for 18 months and ordered him to undertake up to 15 days of rehabilitation activity and imposed a £135 fine, He ordered the drug rehabilitation requirement for nine months.