A TEENAGER who stole a Rolex watch worth tens of thousands of pounds from an Oxford jewellers has been spared jail.

Buraydah Simmons, 19, of Lilac Place, West Drayton, had denied the single count of theft before magistrates' but was convicted.

Oxford Crown Court heard at his sentencing on Thursday that the £27,650 accessory had never been recovered after the heist at the Goldsmiths store at the Clarendon Shopping Centre shortly before 3pm on September 5 last year.

The court heard that Simmons had been in Oxford together with an unidentified male when they visited the shopping centre off Cornmarket Street.

They asked to see the Rolex watch and the moment the second male took hold of the item both men then dashed out of the store towards St Ebbes Street.

To their surprise a group of construction workers were inadvertently lying in wait and suspecting that the fleeing males may have done something wrong they stopped Simmons, while the other male fled holding the watch.

Police were called and Simmons was arrested, initially claiming that he knew nothing of the other male's plan to snatch the high value item, but was later convicted before Oxford Magistrates' Court.

In mitigation, Julian Lynch said that his client showed great promise despite his offending and was currently studying at university in a bid to work on oil rigs.

He said: "He is a man who with careful handling can be turned aside from the path that he is on.

"In terms of protection of the public an immediate custodial sentence is likely to be counterproductive."

Sentencing, Judge Roger Chapple agreed that despite the high value and the deliberate targetting involved in the theft he could spare Simmons an immediate jail term.

Simmons was given a 16-week prison sentence suspended for two years and made subject to a community order to include 25 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.