Valeter jailed after driving off in Land Rover

By Court Reporter 27/02 Updated: 02/03 09:36

A MAN who took a Land Rover from the Heritage Motor Centre where he worked as a car valeter and then put false number plates on it has been jailed.

Thomas Smithson earlier pleaded guilty to stealing the £65,000 vehicle from the Land Rover Experience at the centre in Gaydon.

And at Warwick Crown Court the 28-year-old of Fallow Hill, Leamington, was jailed for 16 months and had eight points put on his driving licence.

Prosecutor Lal Amarasinghe said last year Smithson was working as a sub-contract valeter for Land Rover Experience, which runs off-road driving courses and other activities at Gaydon.

But in November he stole one of the Land Rovers used at the site by simply driving off in it using keys he had as part of his job.

He was caught by chance when the police went to his home on an unrelated matter in January and saw the vehicle.

Smithson claimed he had taken the Land Rover to use himself, planning to then return it, but had found it too difficult to take back without being caught.

But Mr Amarasinghe pointed out that after stealing the Land Rover, Smithson had put false number plates on in to disguise its identity.

And he added that Smithson had previous convictions for offences including theft from an employer in 2003 and for aggravated vehicle taking.

Recorder Nicholas Paines QC told Smithson, in view of his record and the breach of trust, the offence was too serious to be dealt with other than by an immediate custodial sentence.

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