Car thief and burglar was caught after stealing Mercedes from Long Itchington house

Court report
Court report

A man who took part in the burglary of a house in Long Itchington and stole one of two almost-new Mercedes cars fought with dock officers after being convicted.

And Lee Stuart was later brought back into the dock in handcuffs to hear the judge jail him for a total of five years and four months.

Stuart, 25, of Violet Close, Wood End, Coventry, had pleaded not guilty to the burglary, the theft of the car and dangerous driving – but was found guilty by unanimous verdicts.

Prosecutor Anthony Cartin said that in May last year a couple left their home in Church Road, Long Itchington, to walk their two dogs.

They had two fairly new Mercedes cars, one black and one white, and they had the keys to the white one with them, but the keys to the black one were on a hook in the kitchen.

When they returned, they first noticed a child seat which had been in the black Mercedes was lying on the drive, and then that the garage door was partly open and the car had gone.

A pane of glass in the back door had been smashed, and inside an untidy search had been carried out.

As well as the two sets of keys to the £45,000 Mercedes GLC, which they had only had for a few weeks, the intruder had taken a pair of earrings.

The car was fitted with a tracker device, and on numerous occasions the owner could see its location at various places in the Coventry area and notified the police.

But the police were slow to react, said Mr Cartin, and on none of those occasions was the car found.

The following day two police officers were in separate cars in the Stoke Aldermoor area of Coventry when one of them saw a black Mercedes GLC on false plates in Acorn Street.

He could see the driver, who had a thick gold chain on his wrist, and shortly afterwards the other officer then saw the car go the wrong way round an island in Siddeley Avenue.

So he put on his blue light to try to get it to stop, but the driver sped away, reaching up to 70mph as he went across junctions in the residential area and overtook at traffic lights.

The officer lost sight of the Mercedes as it turned into Harefield Road, and it was then found abandoned in Dronfield Road.

Meanwhile the other officer saw Stuart, who was banned from driving at the time, flagging down a taxi in Walsgrave Road and formed the view he had been the driver of the Mercedes, so arrested him from the back of the taxi.

Stuart had a distinctive thick gold bracelet identical to the one the officer had noticed, which was shown to the jury, and his phone was seized.

The phone’s call data showed that the previous day it had been in Long Itchington at the time the car owners had been out.

“More significant is that the same phone seems to be connecting with cell site masts which accord to where the tracker was placing the Mercedes,” pointed out Mr Cartin.

When Stuart was questioned, he commented that ‘half of Coventry wears a gold bracelet,’ and claimed he would not have driven because he had been disqualified.

During the trial he and his partner claimed that on the day of the burglary he had not had his phone because he had left it in his partner’s car – and that she had used it while she was on her way to Rugby to call his friends to find out where he was.

As the jury began returning their guilty verdicts, Stuart demanded to leave the dock – and behind the door he began to fight with the dock officers, one of whom was heard to cry out in pain.

Sentencing him after he had been brought back into the dock in handcuffs,

Judge Peter Cooke told Stuart: “You have been convicted on the clearest possible evidence.

“At the age of 25 you have amassed 24 convictions for 48 offences, some of them very serious. You are a thoroughly disreputable and seemingly irredeemable young man.

“This was obviously a planned enterprise involving reconnaissance of that house where there were two virtually new high-value cars.”

Stuart was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the burglary, with a consecutive ten-month sentence for dangerous driving, and was banned from driving for five years and eight months.