A MECHANIC who waited almost two years for a thief who raided a car garage to face justice has voiced his anger after the criminal dodged a prison sentence.

Dean McDermott was working at Clacton Car and MoT centre, in Old Road, in September 2017 when thieves ransacked the business.

Power tools and equipment, worth in the region of £30,000, were stolen after burglars smashed their way through a window.

Thief Kieron Milligan, 41, appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court after admitting burglary and fraud.

He was snared by officers after he left his blood behind at the scene.

Milligan was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to complete a 50 day rehabilitation activity requirement and undertake 120 hours of unpaid work.

But Mr McDermott, 34, described the sentence as a slap in the face to those who work for a living.

“They took everything they could sell, anything they saw,” he said. “They even raided the fridge.

“How can someone do this amount of financial damage to people and get away with it.

“He has a drugs problem, I get that is difficult, but that isn’t my fault.”

Many of the stolen tools and equipment were purchased by Mr McDermott over the course of 15 years. The mechanic was still noticing missing tools six months after the raid. One stolen diagnostics machine costed £8,000.

“I am paying the price for this, not him,” said Mr McDermott.

“It angers me that he is walking free.

“What kind of justice system do we have if you can get away with stealing thousands of pounds worth of hard work.

“It makes me feel like giving up working, becoming a crack head and stealing for my living.

“Rehabilitation and unpaid work is no punishment for this.”

The court accepted Milligan had not acted alone in the raid and acknowledged he was a victim of cuckooing - a practise whereby drug dealers take over the home of a user.

The company running the garage at the time of the theft left the business soon after.

Mr McDermott’s brother took on the centre.

Mr McDermott said: “If my brother hadn’t come in to take over I would probably be out of work.

"It is a choice in life to get up and go to work, just like it is a choice to take drugs.

"You control your own path.”