Sunderland apprentice blames crime spree on lack of benefits

Sunderland Magistrates' Court.
Sunderland Magistrates' Court.
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AN apprentice car repairman has been given a suspended prison sentence and a driving ban after pleading guilty to 15 offences.

Robert Laidler began his crime spree in June after his benefits were stopped, during which he took a car without its owner’s consent three times and stole number plates and fuel, Sunderland magistrates heard.

The 23-year-old apprentice at Washington Auto Services, who is studying for an NVQ in vehicle repair, was jailed for 36 weeks, suspended for two years.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said the offending was divided into three near identical sets of incidents, on June 25, June 30, and July 2, and that they related to the same vehicle, a Ford Mondeo, belonging to the father of one of his friends.

Mr Anderson said: “On June 25 he has stolen registration plates and put on the vehicle in question to disguise its identity. On June 30 he altered the registration by colouring in part of the registration to make the C look like an O and on July 2, we’ve got a different stolen registration plate.

“He admitted all three sets of offences. As to the vehicle, he said he borrowed it. In each case he stole petrol, which should be recompensed back to the relevant garage.”

The court heard he took fuel to the value of £40.11 on June 25, and £39.86, on June 30, both from The Co-op in Parsons Road, Washington. On July 2, he took fuel worth £30.23 from Four Aces Filling station in Wardley, Gateshead.

The court heard that he has similar matters on his record and that he was given a suspended prison sentence on July 21, after the new offences were committed.

Laidler, of Franklin Court, Concord, admitted three counts of making off without payment , two of theft from a motor vehicle, three of taking a vehicle without consent three of driving without a licence, three of having no insurance and one of fraud.

Emma Turner, defending, said: “The background is, the defendant was on benefits. He was sanctioned for a time period and he had absolutely no income whatsoever. Unfortunately, he took the decision to commit these offences. At the time he was desperate. It was not to fund any sort of drug or drink habit. He simply had nothing to live on.”

Laidler was also banned from driving for 18 months, concurrent with an existing ban imposed in the summer, and was ordered to pay £172.60 in compensation.