Bedlington thief stole cars by ramming them out of compound

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A thief who stole cars by ramming them out of a compound has been spared jail.

Ryan Richards and an accomplice took three second hand vehicles and caused damage to others by bumping them into each other.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the total value of the thefts and damage at WMA Vehicle Hire and Sales in Bedlington, last October was nearly £12,000.

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Now Richards, 21, of Cumberland Avenue, Bedlington, who is already on a suspended prison sentence for burglary and carrying knives, has been given another chance to keep his freedom.

WMA Vehicle Hire and Sales in Bedlington. Picture: GoogleWMA Vehicle Hire and Sales in Bedlington. Picture: Google
WMA Vehicle Hire and Sales in Bedlington. Picture: Google

Prosecutor Neil Jones told the court: "He faces 11 new matters of theft and damage to motor vehicles. They belonged to premises operated by WMA, whose compound all of the vehicles were in - they are listed as belonging to the proprietors of the compound.

"As the CCTV graphically shows, the persons concerned, two in number, jockey the vehicles, ram them into each other to get them out of the compound,which is how the vehicles sustained various types of damage, along with the gates to the compound."

Three cars were stolen - a Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta and Citroen Berlingo – and others were damaged.

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The total cost of the thefts and damage was £11,930, of which £6,500 was the damage to the vehicles and gates.

Richards pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and eight of criminal damage and was also in breach of a suspended sentence imposed last November for a burglary at a cricket club and possessing knives.

The 16 months suspended prison sentence remains in force and he has now been given a 12-month community order to run alongside.

He was fined £50 for breaching the suspended prison sentence and must do a thinking skills programme.

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Judge Stephen Earl said: "If I lock him up he will lose his support network. I sentenced him on November 8 and all of this was already in the pipeline and it all pre-dated the suspended sentence, which makes a significant difference because he has not committed any new offences but he has breached the order by not complying with it.

"The way to do justice both to the community and in terms of the defendant to ensure he doesn't become hopeless as a criminal because he might say what's the point in trying by locking him up for six months and him not getting any help so we may as well try something else.

"Those who think that's a soft option, it might seem it for someone not in the defendant's circumstances."

Katie Spence, defending, said: "He doesn't feel like he is capable of leaving the house, his mental health is so bad he is essentially a recluse."

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Asked by the judge how it was that he left the house to commit the offences, Miss Spence said: "He had been on drugs and felt very out of control and doesn't remember a great deal of it.

"Those drugs mixed with medication he was taking at the time and he was all over the place."

She added that he has now distanced himself from people he was associating with at the time.