A FATHER of four, who blamed the theft of expensive designer handbags on his two-year-old daughter, has avoided prison.

Window cleaner Spencer Russell stole £10,000 worth of clothes, shoes, and accessories, from a home his wife was paid to look after while the owner was away.

Russell, of Melbourne Close, Banbury, stole from the house in Souldern, near Bicester, between July and November last year. And the 47-year-old put stolen items up for sale on Internet auction site ebay, Oxford Crown Court heard last week.

But when homeowner Barbara Camm spotted items missing he said his daughter had taken them to play dressing-up.

And when he returned some handbags, he planted dummies and sweet wrappers in them.

He later admitted the crimes and on Friday was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for a year.

Recorder Julian Knowles said he had spared Russell an immediate jail term because he was in now work and had a family to look after.

But sentencing him, he said: “You rooted through Mrs Camm’s property on a regular basis, sorting out what tasty morsels you wanted to sell for yourself.

“Rather pathetic excuses were given that perhaps your two-year-old daughter had put them in your car.”

He added: “This was a nasty, underhand, unpleasant crime.”

Russell was also told to do 200 hours of unpaid community work and to pay his victim £500 compensation.