Crook caught after fleeing scene - on getaway tractor

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A ‘bottom-rung’ criminal led police on a low-speed chase as he attempted to get away in a tractor he was stealing from a farm.

Sheffield Crown Court heard police were called by a member of the public who saw Watson struggling to drive the vehicle on a Nottinghamshire country road near Newark-on-Trent.

Two other people in a car behind the tractor fled when police arrived, with Watson’s escape attempt across the field being prevented by police driving around the land to intercept him.

He got out of the tractor and tried to walk away before being wrestled to the ground by police officers.

Stephen Welch, prosecuting, said Watson told the police that two men who he owed money to had forced him take part in the attempted theft, which occurred on March 24 this year. Mr Welch said Watson had told police he had ‘panicked’ when he saw officers behind him. He added Watson had said the men were ‘members of the travelling community’ and he had seen them being violent in the past.

Watson was also sentenced at the same time for being involved in the production of cannabis at a property on Crabtree Road in Dunscroft, Doncaster.

The court heard police had found skunk cannabis with a street value of almost £20,000 at the property, with the occupants initially arrested on February 20 this year.

But heroin user Watson got in touch with police later that day to say that himself and an unnamed friend had been responsible for growing the drug at the property.

Mr Welch said: “He said no-one had asked him or threatened him to come forward to take responsibility.”

Timothy Savage, defending Watson, said it was noteworthy other people were in custody when his client handed himself into police in relation to the drugs factory.

He said: “This smacks of this man being a gofer.

“I do submit he is at the bottom rung of the ladder.”

Judge Mark Gargan sentenced Watson to 22 months in jail for the two offences.

He said Watson had ‘at the very least encouragement and possibly some pressure from others’ when committing the tractor theft.