A THIEF who broke in to Helensburgh’s newest visitor attraction earlier this year faces a lengthy prison term for the crime.

Iain McTear smashed the front door of the Scottish Submarine Centre in West King Street in the break-in on June 18.

A court hearing was told that CCTV cameras captured the whole incident – and also recorded footage of McTear sizing up the premises three days before the break-in.

The 41-year-old Renton resident, currently an inmate at Greenock prison, appeared for sentencing at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a charge of theft by housebreaking.

McTear admitted stealing a till drawer and its contents and forcing open a donation box and stealing the cash from inside.

READ MORE: Charity cash stolen in break-in at Helensburgh submarine centre

Fiscal depute Kevin Doherty told the court McTear had been seen on CCTV cameras at 11pm on June 15, peering through the front door of the centre and sitting on the steps outside.

Mr Docherty said: “At 5pm on June 17, the premises were locked and secured.

“At 12.57am on June 18, police were contacted via 999 by a CCTV operator. Officers arrived a short time later and saw broken glass around the entrance doors.

“Two officers took up position at the front of the building and another at the rear; the assistance of a dog handler was also requested.

“At 1.10am, the CCTV operator arrived and provided a description of a ‘skinny male’ and the clothing he was wearing.

“A police officer observed a man matching the description given, carrying a bag, containing a large item, on West Clyde Street.

“The officer saw the accused drop the bag and make off.

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“After a short pursuit the officer apprehended the accused; the bag was searched and was found to contain the till.

“CCTV footage clearly shows the accused throwing a slab through the glass pane of the front door; he is seen to enter the premises and to exit again five minutes later, carrying the black till.

“Enquiries revealed a perspex donation box had been broken into and the contents removed.

“The accused’s prints were found on the handle of the discarded bag.”

McTear’s solicitor, Brian McGuire, told Sheriff William Gallacher: “I won’t trouble your Lordship by suggesting anything other than a custodial sentence would be appropriate.”

Sheriff Gallacher opted to defer sentence on McTear until Wednesday, October 30 for a social work report which will assess whether a ‘supervised release order’ is required to protect the public once McTear is released from jail.

The sheriff told McTear: “You have an abysmal criminal record that shows disregard for other people.

“I require to consider whether the imposition of a supervised release order will help protect the public. You will remain in custody.”

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In the Advertiser’s report of the incident in June, it was stated that around £60 in cash was recovered by police after the thief was caught.

At the time, a spokesperson for the centre said it was the fourth time in six months that the centre, and the adjacent Tower Digital Arts Centre, had been targeted by break-ins.

The centre opened to the public in March 2018 following years of planning.

An official opening ceremony was performed by HRH the Princess Royal in July.

Exhibits at the centre include a Cold War ‘midget submarine’, X51, codenamed HMS Stickleback.

The centre was highly commented in the ‘innovation of the year’ category at the 2019 Museum and Heritage Awards in May.