7th Jul, 2022

Man jailed over string of thefts from leisure centre and gym changing-room lockers

Editorial Correspondent 2nd Sep, 2019 Updated: 2nd Sep, 2019

A MAN who had acted as the driver for a career criminal who specialised in targeting the changing rooms of leisure centres and gyms has been jailed.

Justin Poyner had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of theft – and was convicted by a jury of two more thefts and an offence of fraud.

And following an adjournment for a report to be prepared on him, Poyner (47) of Foxglove Close, Canley, Coventry, was jailed for two years.

The jury had heard he had acted as the driver for career criminal Christopher Hanley (44) of Sewall Highway, Coventry, who was jailed for five-and-a-half years following their trial, as we reported.

Prosecutor Graham Russell said: “The main mechanism by which they perpetrated their offences was to drive to gyms and health clubs up and down the country in a certain red Volvo.

“Invariably it would be Poyner who drove and Hanley who would get out of the car and go into the gym.

“He would either try to blag his way in using a false name or simply stroll past reception into the changing room. There he would select a likely locker, and that locker would be broken into and wallets, keys and other possessions removed.

“He would then return to the car park and, using the keys, find and then drive away the vehicle he had selected, only one of which was ever recovered.”

Mr Russell said the offence Poyner had admitted was the theft of a number plate from a car on a car park in October 2016, after which CCTV showed him returning to the red Volvo which ANPR cameras captured en-route to various of the targeted premises.

The previous month, with Poyner driving the Volvo, the two men had gone to the David Lloyd Leisure Centre in Bromsgrove where Hanley stole property from a locker.

He then used keys to take a Range Rover, which happened to be fitted with a tracker which showed it being driven back to Coventry as Poyner drove back in the Volvo.

Items from the locker were later found by the police at an address in Heddle Grove, Coventry, where both men were living at the time, said Mr Russell.

Hanley used that victim’s identity to obtain an Argos store card on which he purchased goods worth £722, while he and Poyner also used the man’s bank cards to make cash withdrawals totalling £1,360 from his bank account.

Both men were then involved in the theft of an expensive Tag Heur watch, bank cards and car keys from a locker at the David Lloyd premises in Nottingham.

Again, Poyner had driven them there in the Volvo in which he returned to Coventry alone while Hanley drove back in their victim’s car which he had taken from outside the leisure centre.

At the resumed hearing, Poyner’s barrister Jonathan Veasey-Pugh said he had become addicted to class A drugs following the sad suicide of his daughter.

His mother had later died of an alcohol-related illness after she had also struggled to cope with their loss.

Mr Veasey-Pugh added that since he had been remanded in custody, Poyner had begun to tackle his addiction, and there was a job available for him with a roofing company if he was given a suspended sentence.

But jailing Poyner, Recorder Martin Butterworth told him: “The only appropriate sentence is immediate custody.”

Hanley had been found guilty by the jury of ten offences of burglary, two of fraud and two of attempted burglary – and the court heard he had been convicted of similar offences three times before.

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