CS gas threat to JCB thief

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The driver of a stolen JCB was followed across a field by police officers threatening to spray him with CS gas.

Anthony Lee, aged 32, had taken the £40,000 fork-lift truck from Ambrose Plant Hire, in Bolsover, North Derbyshire.

Magistrates at Chesterfield heard Lee, from Doncaster, drove the vehicle through a chain-link fence to exit the company’s compound on December 28.

Becky Mahon, prosecuting, said it was fitted with a tracking device. When it was moved, a warning was sent to the owners.

“Because it was a shut-down period for Christmas police were informed and, at 3.10pm, officers saw it leaving Carr Vale along Station Road, heading towards Chesterfield,” said Ms Mahon.

They quickly pulled up behind it and flashed lights. It failed to stop so they overtook it, stopped in front of it and told the driver to pull over.

“But he drove over a grass verge and across a field. Police followed and he continued driving. He was told he would be CS-gassed and then he stopped.”

Ms Mahon said Lee handed officers a key to the truck. He said he had been given the key by people he would not name.

“He said they had brought him to Bolsover and told him to drive the JCB for a few miles to a location he wouldn’t name, and leave it there.”

Lee, of Anfield Road, Bessacarr, admitted theft, failing to stop for police, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

He was banned for a year last July for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and driving without insurance.

Magistrates said their sentencing powers were insufficient, and committed him to be deal with by a judge at Derby Crown Court on February 18.

“He couldn’t have committed this offence alone. He was preyed on by others and he was only going to receive a small amount of money for doing it,” said defence solicitor John Wilford.

He said Lee was trying to overcome a heroin addiction.

Lee was granted unconditional bail and a probation service report was ordered.