A MAN who got a job with a car dealer thanked his new boss by taking his house keys and twice burgling him, stealing a valuable heirloom from his late mother.

Danel Thapa used the opportunity of work errands to let himself into the property, knowing his victim would not be at home.

Even after he had been caught the 23-year-old continued to lie about what he had done with a treasured piece of jewellery.

But Thapa was caught out when the police and his victim, who had treated him like a member of the family, checked out his story and found he was still lying.

A judge jailed him for 18 months after his solicitor told Swindon Crown Court “He has been a silly, naive idiot.”

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told how Thapa had helped out Manjinder Lal at his small company Weenie Motors, on Hawksworth Industrial Estate.

After gaining his trust Mr Lal took him on, paying a salary, and treated him like family, inviting him to spend Christmas with him and his partner.

Last autumn he thought petty cash had gone missing from the office and in October a set of house keys he kept at work vanished.

“He thought he must have mislaid them somewhere,” Miss Hingston told the court. But Mr Lal later found a gold chain had gone missing from his bedroom.

“It was Indian gold and had belonged to Mr Lal’s mother. She had unfortunately committed suicide when he was a young child.

“It was also of significant value, costing between £2,500 and £3,000 to replace. That had been on the dressing table on his bedroom.

“Following the loss of the chain another item went missing from Mr Lal’s home, a quantity of cash, money from a car which had been sold by the business. On that day Mr Lal’s suspicions were aroused. He had sent the defendant on a short errand, it should have taken 35 minutes and he was gone for two hours.”

When he confronted him about taking the chain and £400 cash Thapa came clean, saying he had been threatened by a drug dealer he owed £7,000.

Miss Hingston said the victim told police: “The chain had belonged to my mum who hanged herself when I was ten years old. It had Sikh symbols on it.

‘I feel violated – this chain had been stolen from my bedroom. I am prepared to sell my house as it doesn’t seem like home.”

Thapa, of Green Road, admitted to the theft of the keys and two counts of burglary of the house in Celsus Grove, Okus.

Rob Ross, defending, said his client had an HND but had built up drug debts from smoking cannabis.

He made up a story which he told the police when he was questioned, not thinking they would check it out. “He has been a silly, naive idiot,” Mr Ross told the court.

Jailing him, Judge Euan Ambrose said: “He trusted you and took you into the business and welcomed you into the family.”