A recently released prisoner allegedly burgled two houses in Taunton and East Devon in the space of 24 hours.

Steffan Ayres was living in a post-release hostel in Taunton in March last year when he is said to have broken into an empty house which was being renovated on the Southern edge of the town.

He was arrested the next day alongside his then partner Samantha Ravenor after passer’s by confronted them at the scene of a second burglary in Axminster where they were seen carrying valuable power tool to a waiting car.

Police found a trace of Ayres’s blood on a door at the house in Cotlake Close, Taunton, where a Perspex window in a porch had been broken during the break-in.

He and Ravenor were filmed by a concerned citizen as they carried stolen goods back to the drive of a house in Crewkerne Road where they returned them to the drive after the car in which they were passengers drove off, leaving them at the scene.

Ayres, aged 48, of Brookside Close, Taunton, denied two counts of burglary and Ravenor, aged 42, of East Reach, Taunton, denies one count.

The jury at Exeter Crown Court has been told that Ayres has offered to plead guilty to theft of the tools at Axminster and Ravenor to handling stolen goods.

Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said the house in Taunton was undergoing renovation work after the death of a previous occupant when it was burgled on the evening of March 25, 2022.

The front door and a garage door were forced open but the only thing which the owners could identify as stolen was a full can of petrol which had been inside the garage.

A forensic expert recovered a sample of blood from the front door which matched Ayres’s DNA. He made no comment when interviewed at the time.

Miss Cassel said the occupants of a car passing a detached house in Crewkerne Road, Axminster, stopped because they were suspicious of a man and a woman who were leaving the driveway at 3.40 pm.

The female passenger got out after seeing the woman struggling with two heavy bags and two boxes which were later found to contain a variety of tools. The house was undergoing building work and they had been taken from an upstairs bedroom after a door was forced open.

The passenger was joined by neighbours who challenged Ayres and Ravenor as they headed towards a black Mercedes which was parked further up the road.

Ravenor was heard to say ‘Its not worth, I’m taking them back’, at which point the car left and she and Ayres headed back to the driveway. The female car passenger filmed both carrying the tools back to the driveway and Ayres shouting abuse at her.

Police found a metal bar which could have been used to break into the house on the ground close to Ayres when he was arrested and a similar tool which had been returned to the driveway along with the stolen goods.

Miss Cassel said Ayres has convictions for nine burglaries or attempts dating between  2013 and 2020 including some in which tools were stolen and others in which houses were entered by breaking a pane of glass in a porch.

Both defendants gave evidence. Ayres denied knowing anything about the burglary in Taunton and said he had no idea how his blood got onto the door. He said he was on a tagged curfew at a hostel in Trinity Road, Taunton, at the time.

He said he and Ravenor had gone for a pub lunch in Lyme Regis with an acquaintance called Steve Richards who stopped outside the house in Axminster and asked them to pick up items which had been left on the drive.

He said he refused and began arguing with Mr Richards because he suspected something crooked was going on and refused to get out. He said Ravenor had gone to pick them up after being offered £50 and he had followed to help her.

He said he had not broken into the house and that he was angry about being accused of it by the local people, who he described as ‘a tribe who descended on me’.

He said he had made a decision to stay out of trouble when he was released from a previous four year sentence for burglary in the summer of 2021 and had stayed off drugs.

Ravenor said she had a drug problem at the time but that she and Ayres were supporting each other in trying to overcome their addictions. They have since split up.

She said she did not know where they were or why they were there when Mr Richards pulled up in Axminster. She said she got out because she was upset by Ayres arguing with the driver.

She saw Ayres go up the drive and go out of sight for a very short time. She then helped him by carrying away some heavy bags and boxes, which he helped her with after she struggled to carry them all.

She denied breaking into the house or acting as look-out for Ayres but said she had offered to admit handling because she suspected the goods were stolen.