Scrap thief jailed after wrecking students’ artwork display

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A MAN has been jailed after wrecking students’ exam work by ripping off metal piping to cash in.

Glen Wilkinson was on a two-day-a-week trial at East Durham College’s campus in Palmer Road, Peterlee, in the hope the he would change his ways through training there.

But the 21-year-old repaid tutors for their support by prising off copper from students’ artwork as it was on display waiting to be marked.

Now the theft, on March 5, has landed Wilkinson in jail for six months after he admitted the offence and asked for the theft of diesel from HGVs in the Seaham area on 29 occasions to be taken in to consideration.

At Peterlee Magistrates’ Court Debra Jones, prosecuting, said Wilkinson had been told by college staff there was no scrap metal to weigh in, but he went on to take piping from the students’ “jig work”.

Mrs Jones said: “When he was arrested and interviewed, he admitted the theft and said he had unclipped parts and put them in a vehicle and was going to weigh it in as scrap metal.

“It was an important part of the students’ course work and clearly something they had worked very hard on and this has been destroyed so it could be sold as scrap.

“The key aggravating feature is this work will probably have to be redone.”

When asked if he had any other crimes he wanted to admit to, he listed the fuel thefts, which included incidents at Seaham Harbour Dock Company, Shell service station and Foundry Road, Seaham, in recent months.

The court heard how syphoning off the fuel has left Wilkinson ill and coughing up blood.

Magistrates heard the metal theft at the college’s Technical Academy, which teaches students skills including gas installation and maintenance, happened while Wilkinson, of Robert Street, Seaham, was on bail for other matters.

Jaxon Taylor, mitigating, said: “While the metal had a nominal value, it clearly had another type of value to the persons whose work it was.

“Glen was a student at the college on Mondays and Tuesdays to try and encourage him to take on a trade and carry out work which would earn him a living and obtain some qualifications.

“He thought this was work made by students on the course before him and was showing to other students what had been done.”

He added that Wilkinson’s relationship with his girlfriend and his illness as a result of handling the fuel had made him want to settle down.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham