A disabled cancer victim has been jailed for more than four years after he carried out a “quite staggering" £100,000 crime spree that included more than 150 offences across the North of England and the Midlands.
Shipley man Stephen Britton, who wears a false leg as a result of a road accident, targeted a “vast array” of high-value tools and fishing equipment in a spate of offending against vehicles in places as far afield as the Lake District and Staffordshire.
The 43-year-old, of Greenfield Avenue, also carried out dozens of attacks on vehicles across West and North Yorkshire, including the Calder Valley, Skipton and Huddersfield, before his campaign ended with his arrest in Bradford.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that father-of-one Britton was a heavy drinker and also felt he had nothing left to lose after being diagnosed with Hodgkins disease.
Britton was jailed for a total of four years and six months after prosecutor Soheil Khan outlined details of his extensive offending, which covered a period from 2011 until July this year.
The court heard that Britton had been committed for sentence by magistrates in Skipton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, North Cumbria and Bradford for offences in their areas, and he also asked for a total of 164 other thefts or attempted thefts from vehicles to be taken into consideration.
Britton had admitted all the offences at previous hearings and Mr Khan said the case involved analytical work relating to the defendant’s mobile phone and automatic number plate recognition systems which showed him travelling around the country.
The offences committed to the crown court by the magistrates totalled around £50,000 in terms of stolen property and damage, but Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC estimated that the total loss caused by Britton’s activities was in excess of £100,000.
The court heard that in February this year Britton was given a 19-week prison sentence by magistrates in Kendal, again for thefts from vehicles, but in July he was caught by police in Bradford after he taken property from a van in Halifax Road, Buttershaw.
Mr Khan said Britton drove off at speed in a red Vauxhall Astra when police officers approached his car and he ignored red traffic lights during a pursuit through the streets.
In addition to the dozens of theft and attempted theft charges Britton also admitted an offence of dangerous driving in relation to the incident in Bradford.
Lawyer Ashok Khullar, for Britton, said: “Part of the reason for what’s arisen is heavy drinking which has spiralled out of control, but a significant factor does seem to have been his diagnosis of cancer.”
Judge Durham Hall, who also banned Britton from driving for three years, said he was before the court for ‘’a quite staggering number’’ of offences.