Judge rewards alert metal ‘detectives’

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TWO AMATEUR detectives have been presented with a reward for helping police catch a scrap metal thief red-handed.

A judge sitting at Doncaster Crown Court awarded Cheryl Read and John Armstrong £100 each from the public purse for noting down the registration number of a suspicious vehicle parked near the Prosper de Mulder compound at Ings Lane, Bentley.

They helped put unemployed plasterer Liam Haywood in the dock on a charge of theft, which he admitted.

He was caught after he loaded his Nissan Navara pick-up truck with so much scrap metal that it got bogged down in mud and he couldn’t drive it away, the court heard.

Haywood, aged 23, of West Avenue, Woodlands, was sentenced to 120 hours’ of unpaid work for the community and ordered to pay £350 in prosecution costs.

The offence was committed in February when Mrs Read spotted the pick-up parked near the Prosper de Mulder fence for several hours and decided to note the registration number, said Neil Coxon, prosecuting.

Mr Armstrong, a retired PDM employee, had also spotted the pick-up with three men inside.

He alerted the site manager, who found metal equipment had been loaded on it.

A candid Haywood told him: “I brought my dog, saw the scrap and thought I’d come back to get it and I got stuck.”

He had planned to weigh it in for scrap.

Dale Harris, defending, said his client did not break into the compound.

The items were strewn in the field and appeared to have been there for some time.

Mr Harris said although the property was valued at £6,000 when new, it had been lying around for some time and have only been worth about £200 as scrap.

He opposed a prosecution application to confiscate the vehicle because it had been used to commit a crime.

Mr Harris said Haywood had worked as a plasterer until he was made redundant last December.

He would need access to a vehicle if he was to find a new job.

Judge Jacqueline Davies said Haywood had been motivated by unemployment after losing his job in December and had thrown away his good character.

She added: “I have been impressed by the actions of Mrs Read and Mr Armstrong who have been public-spirited and should be commended.”