A MAN accused of being part of a criminal gang which launched an £18,000 raid on a commercial site in Kendal has gone on trial.

A jury at Carlisle Crown Court heard earlier this week how a spate of high value night-time crimes occurred in two Cumbrian towns on four separate nights in December, 2016.

Many thousands of pounds worth of property was stolen and damage caused.

Illegal entry was forced to two business premises at Mardale Road in Penrith and two neighbouring sites at Bowerbank Way on the town's nearby Gilwilly industrial estate on three of those nights by crooks. Property was stolen from three sites, and a pair of wire-cutters was recovered from the other.

On the fourth and final night, Cox and Allen's premises on Shap Road, Kendal, was entered when a padlock was cut. Property valued at around £18,000 - including a JCB mini digger - was stolen. A hacksaw was found close to the point of illegal entry.

Sean Owen McDonald, 49, has gone on trial and denies nine charges. Five allege theft, two allege going equipped for theft with wire-cutters and a hacksaw, one alleges burglary and another alleges attempted theft.

Opening the case to jurors, prosecutor Tim Evans said there was an estimated "one in one billion" chance that DNA found on both the wire-cutters in Penrith and hacksaw in Kendal during forensic analysis did not belong to McDonald.

"These are offences committed by thieves and burglars travelling from the North East - from Middlesbrough - to Cumbria," said Mr Evans, "perhaps thinking pickings were better."

The prosecutor alleged: "These offences are all related and all committed, say the Crown, by Sean Owen McDonald."

McDonald, of Clapham Green, Middlesbrough, was arrested last September after DNA hits from the wire-cutters and hacksaw emerged. He was interviewed by police investigating the raids but made no comment.

The trial continues.