Thief who stole comedian Bill Bailey's tour bus is jailed

06/01/2016

A prolific thief who stole comedian Bill Bailey’s tour bus from outside a Liverpool theatre has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Francis John Whittaker, 35, stole an Apple iMac laptop and keys to a Mercedes Sprinter van from the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool City Centre on October 26, 2015. Comedian Bill Bailey had been due to perform there as part of his Limboland tour.

Whittaker, of The Lynxway in West Derby, pleaded guilty to burglary and two charges of vehicle theft at an earlier hearing at Liverpool Magistrates' Court. He was arrested following a CCTV appeal by Merseyside Police.

It's thought that Whittaker got into the Philharmonic Hall by a side door that had been wedged open and then got into one of the production rooms where he stole a personal laptop and the keys to the tour bus. The bus contained £2000 worth of merchandise and the personal belongings of several crew members. In November, the bus was found abandoned in Tuebrook, with false number plates. It had been involved in a collision, causing extensive damage to the other vehicle.

The court heard that, on August 17, Whittaker had also stolen a van belonging to a man who had been doing work at the Hilton Hotel in Thomas Steers Way, Liverpool. The vehicle contained documents with the workman's address and keys to his other car. The court heard that, some days later, the man woke up in his bedroom at home to find someone trying to get into his other car outside. The thief left when the victim shouted at him from his bedroom.

Whittaker had 42 convictions for 84 offences including burglary.

Lynn Clark, Associate Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service said: "Whittaker is a career criminal who has been committing crimes for around 20 years.

"His latest theft came to light as he had taken the tour bus of the well known comedian Bill Bailey who was performing in Liverpool at the time.

"Whittaker clearly has no regard for other people's property or the effect that his thefts have on the individuals concerned."