Scrap metal thief spared immediate prison term

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A BUSINESSMAN who stole £3,200 of scrap metal has been allowed to walk free from a Sheffield court.

A judge told Roger Garnett, aged 46, he was very close to a receiving a jail term after he drove a lorry onto another company’s site in Rotherham and drove off with four tonnes of high-value scrap metal.

The judge, Recorder Patrick Palmer, said it was only Garnett’s good reputation and his conviction the crime was “entirely out of character” that kept him out of prison.

Recorder Palmer said: “You must understand that stealing is a very serious offence.

“I was minded to pose an immediate custodial sentence today. But I regard this as being entirely out of character.”

He handed Garnett, who runs a haulage firm, a three-month sentence suspended for 12 months, and ordered him to pay £3,200 in compensation to Steelphalt, a firm based at Sheffield Road, Rotherham.

The court heard Garnett, of Church Street, Eckington, recruited another man to help him load the scrap onto his lorry on August 5 last year.

Nicholas Neale, prosecuting, said: “He was aware people stole this stuff from time to time and he decided to do that himself. He had no need to do so. He wasn’t in any financial difficulties and his business had a decent turnover. He agreed with one of the loaders he would pay him half the proceeds.”

The court heard Garnett, a married dad-of-two, pleaded guilty as soon as police called him in for questioning last year, and pledged to pay back the full value of the goods.

Recorder Palmer said the fact Garnett had recruited somebody else to assist him “aggravated” the crime.

He warned him if he committed another offence in the next year he would immediately serve the three months.