A THIEF who was spared prison after he broke into a flat in Helensburgh has won praise from a sheriff for his progress – in stark contrast to his co-accused.

Iain Campbell, of Smiddy Court in Garelochhead, stole keys, a mask, a quantity of lighters, a watch and a metal container when he and William McFall broke into the Drumfork Court property in July 2018.

The two men were each handed a community payback order [CPO] instead of a jail term when they were sentenced last June, despite their criminal records and addiction issues.

Campbell, 25, was told he would be supervised by a social worker until December 2020, ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work, and handed a six-month 7pm-to-7am curfew.

READ MORE: Housebreakers spared jail after Helensburgh flat raid

But while 41-year-old McFall has since been jailed until 2021 for further offences, committed after his CPO was imposed, Campbell was praised at a court hearing last week for the way he has engaged with his order.

His solicitor, Gail Campbell, told Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday that a report on her client’s progress was “relatively positive” and “indicates the clear way he is moving forward”.

Sheriff Maxwell Hendry said he was concerned at Campbell’s decision to leave Turning Point, a residential programme aimed at tackling the link between offending behaviour and substance misuse.

But the sheriff added: “He’s had to deal with some difficult circumstances.

“I had to think long and hard before placing Mr Campbell and Mr McFall on community payback orders, because prison was merited.

“I clearly made a mistake with regard to Mr McFall, but I’m persuaded I didn’t make a mistake with Mr Campbell, who seems to be making the most of the opportunity given to him.”

McFall, of Williamson Drive, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars in October for a separate incident, last August, in the town’s Logie Place, in which he threatened to stab a Helensburgh woman unless she gave him money to buy drugs, before going on to slash two tyres on a car belonging to the woman’s father.

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And last month, the CPO imposed on McFall for the Drumfork Court break-in was revoked, and he was sentenced to a further 18 months in prison.

Campbell was told he would not have to come back to court for any further reviews of his CPO unless his compliance with the order starts to falter.

He was also, because of those “difficult circumstances”, given more time to complete his unpaid work punishment.

Addressing Campbell directly, the sheriff continued: “I don’t use these words often, but I think it’s appropriate that I should say ‘well done’.

“You were at a crossroads; it would have been very straightforward for me to have sent you to prison.

“I took a chance with both of you; it didn’t pay off with Mr McFall, but so far it appears to be paying off with you.

READ MORE: Addict threatened to stab Helensburgh couple for drug money

“Your compliance, at the moment, is good – possibly very good. However, if it falls away from that, you may not find me in the same mood towards you as I am today.

“If you commit another offence, I don’t think there would be any possibility of sentencing you to anything other than prison.”

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