A former public school boy has been cleared of stealing two unique racing car windscreens in a drunken raid on his landlord’s garage.
Andrew Yarrow was acquitted after he told a jury he looked into the converted bakery in Holsworthy as he passed it but had not gone in or taken anything.
He suffers from borderline schizophrenia, personality disorder and depression and on the day of the alleged burglary he had run out of medication and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels to help him sleep.
Yarrow said he was sure he would have remembered going into the Old Bakery in Church Lane and that the theft may have been carried out by three people he saw lurking around outside it.
Yarrow, 36, is the son of an RAF officer who was educated at Kelly College in Tavistock but whose academic career was disrupted by the onset of mental illness when he was 15 or 16.
The prosecution said neighbours saw him breaking into the Old Bakery at 7am by using a gas canister to smash the lock. The jury were told he spent an hour rummaging around inside before stealing the two Perspex side screens from a vintage racing car which was stored there.
The building is owned by Ian Reginald Headon, who lives nearby and also rented a property to Yarrow in the same lane.
He used it as a garage to keep some of the vintage cars which he designed himself and built by hand. Each was named after his initials and the one which was damaged was called IRH7 because it was the seventh.
Mr Headon was planning to restore the unique car, which he built and raced in 1967, to its former glory but found it vandalised when he checked the building.
The missing parts are only worth £30 in monetary value but are irreplaceable because any new panels will not be part of the original car.
Yarrow, of North Road, Holsworthy, denied burglary and was found not guilty by the jury at Exeter Crown Court.
He said he had gone out early that morning to buy a bottle of Jack Daniels from a supermarket because he had run out of his medication and could not sleep.
He said he saw the damaged door on his way home and looked inside but did not enter and saw three people looking in a bin outside the Old Bakery, who he believed may have gone on to enter the building.
He said: "I spend a lot of time on my own watching a lot of movies or on the internet. I am looking for work but cannot find a 16 hour job anywhere in Holsworthy.
“I hear voices and I trip and stumble because of my medication and sometimes fall. I am very anxious a lot of the time and find it difficult to socialise. People are less willing to talk to someone when they learn they have mental health problems.
“That night I had run out of medication and went to the supermarket and bought Jack Daniels. I went home and had more to drink and drifted off. It made me very drowsy.
“I did not kick or shoulder barge the garage door or hit it with a gas canister and I did not let myself in or take anything. I have never had those two windscreens. I did not burgle that garage on November 16.”
Miss Emily Pitts, defending, told the jury there was no forensic evidence from inside the garage to suggest he had been there and the gas canister used to smash the lock had not been fingerprinted.
She said nobody had seen him with the windscreens and they were never found despite a search of his home.