A NEWPORT man has been jailed after stealing an electric bike worth £6,800 after conning its owner into thinking he wanted to buy it.
Louis Maxwell, 34, of Cumberland Road, contacted the seller after seeing an advert for the bike on Facebook, and drove to his house in a stolen van.
He asked to test ride the bike, said James Evans, prosecuting, offering to leave the van and its keys with the seller as an assurance that he would come back.
However, he rode round the corner to where his accomplice was waiting in another van, and made a getaway with the bike, leaving the stolen van with the seller.
The seller realised the van was stolen when he noticed it had number plates attached over its original number plates.
“It was a sophisticated and planned offence,” said Mr Evans.
Maxwell was caught by police after the contact number he left the seller was tracked to a pay as you go phone, and officers traced the location of where it was last topped up, catching Maxwell on CCTV.
The defendant denied stealing the van which he left with the seller – and was not charged with that.
He pleaded guilty to theft, handling stolen goods – relating to the van – and driving whilst disqualified.
The bike was not recovered.
At the time of the offences, Maxwell was already under investigation for driving whilst disqualified.
Maxwell had set up a towing business using a Ford Transit van, and brought in a Seat to be scrapped on September 28.
The scrap dealers ran checks on the Seat, and found it was stolen, said Mr Evans.
“He had no idea the Seat was stolen,” said Jeffrey Jenkins, in mitigation, which the prosecution accepted. Maxwell admitted the charge of driving whilst disqualified.
He has 16 previous convictions for 49 offences. 12 of those involve dishonesty, nine for driving whilst disqualified and six for burglary.
Mr Jenkins said after Maxwell was released from his latest prison sentence wanted to set up his own business.
“He borrowed money – £10,000 – off a friend to purchase a vehicle and set up a towing business with each other,” said Mr Jenkins.
“He was desperate to keep his business afloat and to pay back that loan. Contact with vehicles came to a halt once the pandemic hit.”
Judge Jeremy Jenkins told Maxwell that “only a custodial sentence can be justified” for his offences.
He sentenced Maxwell to 10 months imprisonment for the theft and handling of stolen goods, and a further two months for the two charges of driving whilst disqualified, for a total of one year in prison.
He’s been banned from driving for 18 months, and must pay a statutory surcharge.