WHEN police officers angling for a car which had been stolen in a burglary turned up at a fishery near Coventry they hooked a man who had been storing it for the thieves.
And a month later they reeled Daniel Wells in again after he crashed another stolen car head-on into a £40,000 Mercedes during a police chase, Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Wells (28) of Hawkesbury Fisheries near Exhall at the time, denied two charges of handling stolen property and one of dangerous driving, but pleaded guilty on the day of his trial.
He was jailed for a total of three years and two months and disqualified for three years seven months, meaning he will serve a two-year ban after his release on licence.
Prosecutor John Brotherton said that in the early hours of October 7 last year a house in Lanchester Road, Radford, Coventry, was broken into and the owner’s VW Golf was stolen.
But the £12,000 car was fitted with a tracker which lured the police to Hawkesbury Fisheries where it was found on false number plates parked next to Wells’s caravan.
Smoke was coming from a nearby barrel used for burning rubbish, in which the officers found the remains of what were believed to have been the original number plates.
And in a plant pot by the door of the caravan they found the car key, said Mr Brotherton.
When he was interviewed Wells, who had previous convictions for offences including burglary, claimed he did not know where the Golf had come from.
He said he ran the fisheries and that many people left their cars there, and he did not know why the Golf had been left right next to his caravan or why the key was in the plant pot.
Then on November 5 police officers on patrol in the Holbrooks area of Coventry sensed something fishy when they saw two cars, a Ford Cougar and a Ford S-Max speeding in Beake Lane.
As the officers began to follow them, they split up and the S-Max, which was being driven by Wells, sped along Lythalls Lane before turning into Bedlam Lane.
The X-Max, which had been stolen in a burglary a few days earlier and was on false plates, then headed along Arbury Avenue.
As Wells then swerved into Foleshill Road, making a left turn which took him onto the off-side of the road, he crashed head-on into a Mercedes coming in the opposite direction.
The woman driving the £40,000 Mercedes had been given it as a birthday gift the previous year by her partner who was still making repayments, and the crash left them £6,000 out of pocket.
She suffered injuries to her legs and chest, and says she still suffers flashbacks thinking about what would have happened if she had been in a less robust car, said Mr Brotherton.
When he was arrested Wells, who was also injured, claimed he did not know the X-Max had been stolen, despite its genuine number plates being in the passenger footwell, and claimed it was the Mercedes that had hit him.
In relation to the Golf, Adam Western, defending, said: “His involvement was no more than providing a place for it to be stored for the people who stole it to check whether it in fact had a tracker.”
Mr Western said Wells, who works at his father’s farm, ‘effectively running the fisheries,’ had been associating with ‘criminal peers,’ but had taken steps to stop mixing with them.
Arguing for a suspended sentence, he submitted: “There are plenty of grounds to believe he could lead a law-abiding life in the future.”
Jailing Wells, Judge Peter Cooke told him: “It seems to me that there is substantial force in the issues Mr Western has urged on me – but I cannot come close to the view that this can result in anything other than a significant custodial sentence.
“I have considered the letter your father has written about the work you do for him, effectively running the whole fisheries side of the business.
“Life is far from hopeless, and there is every reason to expect you could look forward to a law-abiding life in the future.
“But this is serious. You have convictions for dwelling house burglary, and these are cars acquired in that way that you handled, and I need to impose a consecutive term for the offence of dangerous driving.”