A man who used a stolen lorry cab to make off with a trailer loaded with almost 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs before surrendering to police with his hands up has been jailed for 18 months.
Around 7.30 p.m. on February 11, Joby Pool, 32, broke into an industrial building in Telford, Shropshire, using a metal grinder, and then he fled with a variety of chocolate products worth more than £31,000.
Pool, of Dewsbury Road, Tingley, near Leeds, was given a year and a half in prison and the other half on a licence by Judge Anthony Lowe at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Thursday.
He will be sentenced to nine months in prison after serving the first six already.
The caravan, which was packed of Cadbury products and was worth about £23,000 in itself, was stolen from an industrial facility owned by SW Group Logistics in Stafford Park, Telford, using a tractor unit that had been stolen in the Yorkshire region in October, according to evidence presented in court.
The stolen chocolate was then taken onto the northbound M42, where, according to a prior court hearing, Pool turned himself in by approaching police “with his hands up” near junction 11.
Pool, who showed up in court on Thursday sporting a grey long-sleeved Adidas shirt, had already pleaded guilty to charges of theft, criminal mischief to a caravan park lock and driving without insurance.
Debra White, who is defending Pool, claimed that he has expressed “genuine remorse” for what he did and regrets the impact it has had on his family and the company in question.
She said: “There were two significant losses in his life, then a third loss in terms of his relationship, and a fourth in terms of the loss of his business.
“There were difficult things he was dealing with and he turned to drugs and alcohol as a crutch, which made things much worse for him.
“He has taken full responsibility. He is not self-pitying, he feels remorseful for the company involved and his family because he knows he has let them down.
“He has been away from them for nearly six months now and they have had to try and cope with that.
“The action he took getting involved with this has impacted on so many people and he is genuinely sorry for that, but he has been punished already by the fact he has been in custody for five and a half months.”
Pool was not the only person involved in the theft’s planning, according to Judge Lowe.
He said: “Whatever the reason as to why you got involved and whether or not you appreciated the seriousness of what you were doing at the time, in my opinion, you got involved in very serious offending.
“If one looks at what must have happened here, we are looking at a significant degree of planning.
“There was the taking of a tractor unit that was driven from Castleford down here to carry out the theft. There must have been inside information or a recce to identify the trailer and if it was worth taking.
“An angle grinder was taken and false plates were obtained to put on the trailer. I am pretty sure others would have been involved in this enterprise. I don’t know what you intended to do with the trailer.
“You are not a man of good character as you have committed theft before in 2019.”
In addition to the jail term, Judge Lowe increased it by one month to be served concurrently for the criminal damage crime and assessed Pool’s driving record six points for operating a vehicle without insurance.
Two days after the crime, West Mercia Police detailed how they “helped save Easter” by thwarting the thief in a series of tweets.
They said: “West Mercia Police has helped save Easter for Creme Egg fans after almost 200,000 of the chocolate treats were stolen from a unit in Stafford Park in Telford.
“The eggs-travagent theft took place on Saturday 11 February with the chocolate collection box thought to be worth around £40,000. Along with the Creme Eggs, a number of other chocolate varieties were also stolen.
“Shortly after the theft a vehicle, presumably purporting to be the Easter bunny, was stopped northbound on the M42 and a man was arrested on suspicion of theft.”