A BUNGLING would-be-thief was caught red-handed by police – inside the vehicle he was trying to steal.
Oliver Howlett was tampering with the steering column of a camper van with an adjustable wrench when he was caught out by officers.
Witnesses had spotted the 25-year-old and two other men loitering around the Volkswagen vehicle in Breamish Street, Jarrow, and called police.
Howlett pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted theft of a motor vehicle at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
He also admitted two counts of using a motor vehicle without insurance and another two counts of using a vehicle otherwise than in accordance with the licence, for separate offences in Gateshead, in July and September of last year.
Howlett was told his string of crimes passed the custody threshold – but he was spared an immediate jail term by magistrates.
John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “Police arrived at 7.50pm and saw Howlett in the front passenger seat with a large adjustable wrench, tampering with the steering column of the van.”
The court heard that Howlett only possessed a provisional licence when stopped by police for his motoring crimes in Gateshead.
Tim Gregory, defending, said Howlett had been caught in a “spiral of depression” after a row with his former partner over access to his son.
He said: “He ended up having the row and was in a spiral of depression. He made the reckless and impulsive decision to try to get in the camper van and drive it back to Gateshead.
“It was a stupid thing to have done and he accepts that.
“He was caught red-handed in the vehicle.”
Howlett, of The Avenue, Felling, Gateshead, was handed a 12-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £105 compensation for damage to the car.