A JUDGE blasted Gwent Police for making an “almighty dog’s breakfast” of a burglary case which saw a trial collapse on its fourth day and both defendants acquitted.

Recorder Greg Bull, QC, directed the jury to find Jamie Blanchard and Gethin Hancock not guilty at Cardiff Crown Court after he slammed the force for its failure to disclose evidence to the defence.

Mr Blanchard, 40, of Chepstow Road, Newport, and Mr Hancock, 33, of Waengron, Blaina, were cleared after prosecutor Emma Harris offered no evidence.

It had emerged during the course of the trial that the police had not fully disclosed prosecution documents to the pair’s defence teams as they are required to.

The court heard how the investigation’s troubled history began when the officer involved was away ill from work for some time.

The judge told the jury: “Quite shamefully, nothing was done. I don’t blame the police officer. Senior officers should have carried out the investigation.

“They waited for two years to go by with nothing being done.

“This was a dog’s breakfast of a case. The prosecutor Miss Harris is not to blame, neither are the Crown Prosecution Service. The police have a burden to carry.

“The victims, whose home was ransacked, still have no justice in this case.”

Both men were charged with burglary, accused of carrying out a raid on a house in Tillery Street, Abertillery, between July 28-31, 2015, when jewellery, two passports, cash, documents, cheque books and a sports bag were stolen.

Mr Hancock was facing a separate count that he had allegedly burgled a garage in Gelli-Crug Road, also in Abertilley, between the same dates, and stolen a moped, fishing reels, a mop, copper pipes and alcohol.

Mr Blanchard, was represented by Stephen Thomas and Mr Hancock’s barrister was Jeffrey Jones.

A reference to the ongoing strike by barristers was made in court.

Many barristers are refusing to take on new work, in protest at fees they receive from the government to defend people in the crown court.

The Criminal Bar Association, which is leading the strike, said the justice system was "underfunded and in chaos".

The strike followed the introduction of the Advocates' Graduated Fee Scheme which came into force in Wales and England on April 1.

It creates bands for legal aid payments, with murder and manslaughter attracting the highest payments.

Mr Jones mentioned the strike in open court and said, as this case was a legal aid one, he would not be getting paid for the disclosure work he undertook during the trial “which brought about this situation”.