A MARSH man stole a family’s caravan as they prepared to set off on holiday.
John Freeth, of Broomfield Road, took the caravan from Gallagher Retail Park at Waterloo on August 21 – the 36-year-old had believed that the vehicle had been abandoned because of its ‘dishevelled’ state.
But Huddersfield magistrates were told that the evening before the crime, the caravan’s owner David Hanley had packed the caravan with clothing and other items for the trip. He parked the Swift Anniversary caravan in a space at the retail park just before 7am when he went to collect his family.
When he returned just before 10am the vehicle was missing.
Police examined CCTV footage, which showed the caravan being towed away by a vehicle an hour earlier. They traced the registration to Freeth’s address in Marsh and there officers found the caravan parked on the road outside.
When interviewed, Freeth told police that thought that the vehicle – valued at around £3,000 – had been abandoned because it was in a “poor, dirty and dishevelled state”. He said he planned to keep the vehicle and maybe sell it.
Freeth admitted making no effort to trace the owner and said the registration plate must have fallen off as he towed it away. He pleaded guilty to theft by finding.
Bob Carr, defending, said his client had honesty believed that the car had been dumped in the empty retail park. There was no sign of other drivers and no car attached to the caravan.
“He believed that the caravan had been dumped and he foolishly took it. He took it in a motor vehicle registered to him and knew that his actions were being observed. If he had been acting dishonestly he would have changed the registration or disguised it.”
Mr Carr said Freeth had thought somebody had been sleeping in the caravan and he admitted throwing away a jacket and two old pairs of trainers in order to clean it.
Magistrates gave Freeth a community order for five weeks, to run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between the hours of 7pm and 6am. He was also ordered to pay £200 compensation and £250 costs.