A man has been jailed for three and a half years after stealing £45,000 worth of fine art from a gallery in the Cotswolds.

Jamie Nash, 41 and of Bristol Road South in Birmingham, pleaded guilty at Gloucester crown court on Friday to breaking into the Clarendon Fine Art Gallery in Stow-on-the-wold on March 9 and making off with several sculptures and paintings.

He also admitted two charges of burglary at the Thomas Sabo Shop at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, when he stole watches and jewellery - first on January 30, 2016, when he took six watches worth £2566 and the second nearly two years later on April, 10 2018 when he stole three watches valued at £1335.

Prosecuting, Janine Wood said the initial offence in 2016 went unsolved until Nash was picked up following the offence in 2018 and the fingerprints from both raids matched.

On January 30 2016, a shop assistant had finished serving customers when she noticed six watches missing from the locked cabinet, said Mrs Wood.

"CCTV evidence showed a man tipping watches into a carrier bag. A fingerprint was found on the cabinet but a match not found at that time," she said.

"He returned on 10th April 2018 to the same shop and a shop assistant noticed watches missing from the cabinet. CCTV showed him go into the shop, open the cabinet and he is seen concealing something in his jacket.

"He is seen leaving in a Corsa which was owned by a student who also had not been in Bristol that day so this vehicle plate was also cloned.

"On 2nd May the police struck lucky when he was seen driving the car and was arrested. He denied offences and said it could be one of his brothers. Fingerprint evidence confirmed a match for the defendant and he was released pending further investigations."

Moving onto the Stow gallery burglary, Mrs Wood said it happened at around 3:30am.

"The alarm was activated and police arrived to find the front door open. Paintings and sculptures were missing to the value of £44,975," she said.

"What implicated him was a smear of blood on a wall in the gallery which was a DNA match to the defendant."

Defending Nash, who appeared via video link from HMP Hewell, Teresa Hunt said her client had spent a considerable time "offence free."

"He lost most of his 30s from committing offences. He left custody in 2011 and there were no further offences until 2016. He spent five years leading a law abiding life. He worked on a market selling fruit and veg and has a daughter who is now 13. He has missed out on a lot of her childhood years.

"He developed a cocaine habit, borrowed money to fund the habit - which led to these offences. But he has already demonstrated he can lead a law abiding life.

"He is now clean and wants to make amends to his daughter" she said.

Sentencing, Judge Jason Taylor QC said he hoped for Nash's sake that he manages to abstain from crime when he is released.

"You have 17 convictions for 34 offences, a substantial amount for dishonesty. The prosecution say you have made a career out of behaving this way and I have to agree," the judge told Nash.

"These offences are aggravated by your poor list of convictions."

He sentenced Nash to nine months jail for each offence at the Bristol jewellery shop and a further two years for the burglary of the art gallery, amounting to three and a half years in total.

Investigating officer Jessica Bull said: "This was a high value burglary with artwork totalling £44,975 having been taken. Unfortunately no artwork has been recovered at this stage.

"However, hopefully today’s sentencing provides some justice for the art gallery and for all the artists whose works have been stolen."

Crime scene co-coordinator Martin Cuffe said: "This is an excellent example of the joined up working within Gloucestershire Constabulary.

"From the initial attending officers who secured and preserved the scene; the forensic team who recovered and submitted key items of forensic evidence which led to the identification of the suspect, and then the work of our investigations and force crime ops team, who worked together to secure a prompt arrest and charge of this offender.

"This joint effort allowed us to secure valuable evidence to support a prosecution and has prevented this individual from committing further offences and from causing further harm to our community."