A man broke into a closed down shop and stole items including a computer, an iPhone and a designer suitcase from his friends who were squatting there.

James McKinnon's friends, who were living in the derelict Blockbusters stores in Portswood Road, had reached out to him offering support after he shared on social media he was having suicidal thoughts.

Having learned they were away, McKinnon broke into the store and stole a number of valuable items.

One of the victims said his friend stole "the remainder of my whole life".

Sentencing him at Southampton Crown Court, Judge Robert Hill, Assistant Judge Advocate General, described McKinnon’s actions as “particularly despicable” as he took “what little they had” while being someone “they trusted”.

McKinnon, of Cranbury Place, was given a 15-month community order, ordered to carry out 250 hours of community work, six days of rehabilitation activities and pay £360 in compensation.

James McKinnon leaving Southampton Crown CourtJames McKinnon leaving Southampton Crown Court (Image: NQ, Jose Ramos)

On August 4 last year, the 24-year-old posted on Instagram that he was having a mental health crisis, Southampton Crown Court was told on Monday.

Seeing this, the couple, who McKinnon had befriended, sent him a message offering their support.

The court heard that a short time later McKinnon messaged the couple to say he had seen someone outside their property.

They were living inside the derelict Blockbusters store on Portswood Road at the time.

Following this, they asked McKinnon to go check if everything was okay.

Prosecution barrister Keely Harvey said: “They asked him to help as he was the only witness identified who had gone there.”

When the couple returned, they found an iPhone, a keyboard, a computer, a computer case, RAM sticks, hard drives, SSDs, a gaming mouse and a Ralph Lauren suitcase were missing.

CCTV footage revealed that Mr McKinnon was the only person entering the premises and catch him leaving with the items, Ms Harvey told the court.

The 24-year-old was arrested on September 8 and denied involvement even though the computer, which contained passwords and codes for online banking, was found at the address.

James McKinnon leaving Southampton Crown CourtJames McKinnon leaving Southampton Crown Court (Image: NQ, Jose Ramos)

A witness statement read out in court said: “James [was] a good friend for the last four years. We began skating during the pandemic and we got to each other.”

He said that he “fully trusted him at that moment” explaining that at that point he was “homeless for a year” and that he stole the only “remainder of my whole life worth around £2,000”, describing it as a “financial blow”.

He added: “He had posted that he was having suicidal thoughts on his Instagram story. I messaged him and sent him pictures [that the victim had taken with McKinnon].”

Mitigating, Eve Shelley highlighted that her client had no previous convictions but added that “his good character has now been lost”.

Sentencing Judge Hill Assistant Judge Advocate described the offence as “particularly despicable”.

He added: “You befriend them and they regarded you as a friend and you were trusted by them. You planned this. You took what little they had left.”