Metal thief sentenced

03/02/2012

Paul Gibson, 44, took scaffold poles, drain covers and metal barriers from the road works on the northbound carriageway of the M1 between Luton and Toddington.

On Wednesday, 01 February 2012, Gibson, of Bradford Road, Toddington, told a judge at Luton Crown Court that he was "sorry" and "very ashamed".

He pleaded guilty to committing burglary and theft on 09 December last year. He asked for the theft of three drain covers, valued at £300, from the A509 at Milton Keynes to be taken into consideration.

Prosecutor Allan Goh said Gibson, who was wearing a High Visibility Jacket, claimed to be one of the contractors working on widening the motorway when he was stopped.

The thefts, which were captured on CCTV, took place between 6 and 7 o'clock in the morning. A Safety Control Officer on the site spotted Gibson's white van in a coned-off area. He had cut a padlock to a storage area and was loading metal objects into the van.

The police were called and Gibson was found further north on the motorway, having removed a drain cover from the side of the road. Scaffold poles, drain covers and motorway barriers valued at £2,000 were recovered, said Mr Goh.

When questioned Gibson told the officers he had been intending to sell the metal for scrap. The paving company boss said he had left his ex-wife's home in Luton at 5.30 in the morning and as he drove north stopped and collected barriers from the roadworks.

He said he then went into Toddington Services for a hot chocolate. He was asked if he had stolen metal on other occasions and confessed to stealing three drain covers from the A509 in Milton Keynes.

Gibson, who was representing himself, told Judge Peter Wright: "I am thoroughly ashamed of myself. What I did on that morning was inexcusable. I feel terrible. I went to the contractors the next day and apologised. "He said that when he was arrested he had been replacing one of the drain covers he had taken.

The Judge told him: "You took advantage of the night hours to carry out the theft of these items. It was a pre-meditated decision. These are serious offences. You took scrap metal, including drain covers. You were part of the menace of metal thieves who have little regard for the expense and inconvenience they cause."

He passed an 8 month jail sentence suspended for 2 years, ordered Gibson to carry out 120 hours unpaid work, abide by a 4 month curfew between 8pm and 6am and pay £300 prosecution costs.

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