Three men who stripped the lead from a school roof were caught red-handed as they loaded it into a van.

A neighbour of the school - the Edward Pauling in Redford Close, Feltham - called the police when he saw men moving about and a van reversing into the playground, prosecuting solicitor, Douglas Adams, told Isleworth Crown Court on Friday.

Thomas Smith, a 34-year-old father of four, of Beattie Close, Feltham, Bobby Chane, 24, of Winslow Way, Hanworth and Aaron Morris, 21, of Fieldview, Egham, all admitted stealing the lead worth £3,500 from the school late on the evening of Tuesday, January 16, and to shouts from the public gallery, were jailed for 14 months.

The school had to shut for the rest of the week for repairs leading loss of income to parents who had to stay home with their children and for supply teachers who had expected to work.

Police followed the van to Bedfont Lakes where it was stopped and the lead discovered along with the three defendants.

Defence counsel, John Lucas, said it was an "opportunistic" theft, but Judge Sam Katkhuda did not agree. Mr Lucas said all three were "very remorseful" and had not realised the trouble it would cause to the school.

Jailing them, the judge said: "It was a deliberate and planned theft. You took a van there because you were planning to steal a large quantity of lead from the roof.

"People who do this to other people's buildings, especially when it is a school, commit a very serious crime which costs the tax payer. You caused a great nuisance to everybody."

He also confiscated the van belonging to Morris.

Morris's younger brother shouted at the judge from the public gallery, for which he spent several hours in the court cells and was only freed after an apology.