A THIEF caught red-handed trying to steal a farmer’s £7,500 quad bike fled empty-handed after a chase, a court heard.

Nicholas Gorton, his brother Luke and a third individual had arrived at Brian Gibson’s farm, near Kendal, with a van to take the sports vehicle, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Mr Gibson saw the trio trying to push the quad bike into the back of a hired van, along with a £700 generator.

Prosecutor Jacob Dyer said the farmer attempted to block their escape, along a narrow country lane, with his tractor.

But the thieves managed to squeeze past the tractor and fled. Later, witnesses saw them attempting to dump the quad bike and generator.

Mr Dyer said: “They seemed to be in some kind of panic because one of them was knocked down by the quad bike.”

Police traced the vehicle used by the thieves to Practical Van Hire and the Gortons were later arrested. Mr Dyer said that there was a covert audio and video recording within the van which identified the brothers and further established that they had visited the Kendal farm previously on a scouting mission.

The court heard Nicholas Gorton was also held after a builder’s van was broken into at a housing development site in Wiswell Lane, Whalley, on January 21 this year.

Gorton stole tools worth £970 but he was traced through his DNA after leaving blood near a window which had been broken on the vehicle.

Gorton, of Harold Avenue, Burnley, admitted two offences of theft and was given a five-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 12 months probation supervision, 150 hours community service and a £250 compensation order.

William Donnelly, defending, said his client, a father-of-three, now wanted to live a law-abiding life so he could win back the trust of his partner.

Luke Gorton, 29, of Greenock Close, Burnley, was jailed for three years in March for heroin dealing and the Kendal theft.