Two addicts who took part in a botched drug robbery after which their accomplice died from stab wounds have been jailed.

Stuart Cuthbert, 49, and Christopher Mooney, 36 – both from Stevenage – were each jailed for five years and eight months at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Both admitted conspiracy to rob after raiding a house in an attempt to steal drugs from a dealer in

Long Leaves, Stevenage, on April 21 last year.

Mooney and Cuthbert were part of a trio who planned in advance to rob drugs from dealer Destao Pedro - then aged 18 – who had just returned to Stevenage after stocking up in London.

When they burst into the property in the early hours of the morning, their accomplice – 47-year-old Mark Altabas – got into a scuffle with the teenager in which the older man sustained stab wounds, and later died.

Mr Pedro was cleared of Mr Altabas’ murder in January this year – but Mooney and Cuthbert were charged with conspiracy to rob.

They were due to be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on April 5, but Mooney skipped bail and had to be recaptured by police – who launched an appeal to find him ahead of the final hearing on May 25.

During the last day of Mr Pedro’s trial at London’s Old Bailey in January, His Honour Judge Martyn Zeidman QC said that Mr Altabas had met with ‘two other cocaine addicts’ – Cuthbert and Mooney – and smoked crack cocaine from pipes before they raided the house where Mr Pedro was staying in Long Leaves.

He said Mr Pedro had been living with two others in an arrangement whereby he supplied them with drugs instead of paying rent.

Mr Pedro had travelled to London that day to visit friends and buy more drugs for £300 before returning to Stevenage, where he sat in the living room of the house while he awaited clients.

Mr Pedro accepted in court that he may have caused injury to Mr Altabas, but denied doing so deliberately or unlawfully.

Judge Zeidman warned the jury in that murder trial to take care with the evidence given by the two robbers because of their previous ‘violent and cruel’ behaviour.

The judge said: “Each of them has appalling records and Mr Cuthbert has a previous conviction for lying in a murder trial for which he received 18 months in jail.

“There is no doubt that each of them had a propensity to act in a dishonest and violent manner.”