Sunderland Tesco ram-raider drives off in wrecked car with just two wheels

This is the shocking moment a ram-raider caused up to £15,000 damage at a Tesco storage unit before driving off with just two wheels left on his wrecked car.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 4:11 pm

Gavin Ball stole a £1,000 generator and a £10 jerry can from the supermarket facility in Roker, Sunderland, then drove through the city with a broken car door swinging open and smoke billowing from the bare rims of his Citroen Picasso, which was not insured.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that "pieces of the car were falling" and landing on the road as the 33-year-old raider, who was banned from being behind the wheel, made his two-mile getaway.

He was seen by an off-duty police inspector, who was passing the area by chance in an unmarked car and noted the Picasso registration number when he saw the state the vehicle was in.

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Gavin Ball carried out the raid o a Tesco unit.

The court heard how Ball, who was wearing a surgical mask, made a "two finger sign" at the plain clothed cop before heading home after the raid, in the early hours of December 12 last year.

Prosecutor Alec Burns told the court: "The offside door was swinging as he was driving along.

"Pieces of the car were falling.

"The inspector could see smoke or steam coming from the car.

The damage to the Citroen Picasso and, inset, the Tesco unit.

"There was substantial damage to the off-side of the car.

"It was all revealed when the car was located at Tower Street West, two miles from the Tesco. There were no tyres on either of the offside wheels, which explains the smoke.

"There were marks on the road which show it had been driven on just the rims."

The court heard the stolen generator was in the back seat of the car, the jerry can in the footwell and a meat cleaver was found in the boot.

Ball, of Tower Street West, who has convictions for 88 previous offences, admitted burglary, dangerous driving, possession of a bladed article, failing to provide a specimen, driving without insurance, driving while disqualified and possession of a small amount of cannabis that was found.

Mr Recorder Andrew Haslam QC jailed him for 28 months, along with a two year road ban and extended test requirement.

The judge told him: "An off duty police officer saw you driving your car, which was in a damaged state. There were no tyres, there were damaged parts left at the scene.

"There was smoke billowing out of the car.

"It is clear the vehicle you were driving wasn't fit to be driven."

Jennifer Coxon, defending, told the court that Ball has no recollection of what happened as he had taken cocaine and valium, which he had thought were just "calming tablets" after being told some upsetting personal news.

Miss Coxon added that Ball can "offer no explanation" for his behaviour and said thankfully nobody was hurt.

The court heard Ball had been running his own business which was hit by the coronavirus pandemic and he had been given a government grant, which he was living off at the time.