Leamington plasterer get suspended sentence after stealing goods from new builds and leading police on seven-mile chase

A plasterer stole cooker hobs from two newly-built houses he passed on his way back from jobs – then led the police on a seven-mile chase when he saw them waiting for him near his home.

But Mark Driver has escaped being jailed after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the two burglaries and a charge of dangerous driving.

Mark Driver.

Mark Driver.

Driver (45) of Blenheim Crescent, Leamington, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for a year.

Prosecutor Rupert Jones said that on December 22 a couple who were carrying out the development of five houses in Armscote Road, Tredington, visited the site to lock up for Christmas.

Part of the metal railing around the plot had been uncoupled, and they saw Driver walking from the site to his car carrying a box.

They asked what he was doing, and he claimed he had been plastering, but when he was asked what was in the box, he got into his car and drove off as they tried to stop him.

They found that one of the houses on the plot had been broken into and in the kitchen an oven and a microwave had been pulled out and a £500 Neff hob, still in its box, had been stolen.

Then on January 20 Driver broke into a newly-built house in Greenhill Lane, Oxhill, which was fully-fitted but awaiting decoration before being ready to be occupied.

A local resident noticed Driver’s car and saw him putting something into the boot before driving away, so made a note of the number and contacted the police.

That evening, having traced Driver through the number, police officers went to his home to speak to him.

He was not there, but they saw the car on the Sydenham Estate, and when they tried to stop him, Driver sped away.

Pursued by the police with their blue lights and sirens on, he drove at high speed towards Radford Semele and then along Offchurch Lane, at one point turning his lights off for a few seconds before turning them back on again.

He then drove straight across Fosse Way without stopping and headed towards Long Itchington, said Mr Jones.

The officers lost sight of him after he went round a bend before realising he had turned into Stonebridge Lane, a narrow single-track lane known as the ‘back road’ to Long Itchington.

As his speed along there reached up to 80mph he went over a hump-back canal bridge at 60 and another driver had to pull into a layby as he saw him approaching.

There was a slight collision with another police car which had tried to intercept him before he reached Long Itchington where he turned into a dead end and got out of the car.

After Driver at first failed to comply with an order to put his hands on his head, he was threatened with a Taser, at which he raised his hands and was arrested.

When the police searched the garage at his home, they found a Neff hob and an extractor fan from the house in Oxhill, added Mr Jones.

In relation to the Tredington burglary, Driver, who was representing himself, said: “I’m a plasterer, and I was working on a site down the road and used to pass that site every day.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment action. I went there for a look round and saw the appliances. The second one, I had passed as well because I do a lot of work around the Shipston-on-Stour area.

“I’ve ruined my life, more so with the dangerous driving. It’s my job, that’s why I didn’t stop. I’d had a drink and I feared I would lose my licence. That all led to me not stopping.”

He explained that he works as a sub-contract plasterer and needs to drive to jobs, and as a result of the interim driving ban he had already been given his income has dropped.

“Last year I earned 44,000. This year it’s more likely to be 20,000,” he said, adding that his family was likely to lose their privately rented home if he was unable to work at all.

Judge Anthony Potter told Driver: “While you might be able to excuse the first occasion as a moment of madness with Christmas approaching, the second event suggests a pattern.

“The second bad decision you made was choosing to flee from the police. The danger you posed was not just to other road-users, but to yourself.”