Preston car thief stole vehicle from victim, 90, and left stinking rotten eggs and litter inside

A criminal who stole an elderly man's car and left it strewn with rotten eggs, food and rubbish has been jailed for two years.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 12:30 pm

Preston Crown Court heard Kurtis Wayne Christopher Smithson, 20, of Arkwright Road, Deepdale, Preston, took the vehicle shortly after the pensioner realised he had accidentally left his keys inside, while nipping to see his friend.

The worried victim used a spare key to take it home after realising the keys were gone, and fitted it with a steering lock.

But undeterred, Smithson returned on June 10 last year and used the stolen keys to steal the Hyundai - bending the wheel in order to drive with the steering lock still on.

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Crown Court

On June 12 he raised suspicions at a Morrison's petrol station when staff saw he was still driving with the lock on and they reported the matter to the police.

The vehicle was found abandoned later that day, with cash and the OAP's disabled badge missing.

Prosecuting, Beth Pilling said: " He made enquiries about trying to wipe the electronic keys but being a pensioner he wasn't able to afford this

"He describes he was absolutely horrified at the state of the vehicle with food, rubbish and crisps and even rotten eggs strewn everywhere, and the glove box was forced open and broken.

"He has still got the vehicle but had to pay out a lot in relation to having it valeted - he said the smell was unbearable."

On June 27, Smithson stole a man's Fiat work van.

The court heard two days later there was a report by members of public who saw it driving erratically - on false numberplates - and a photo was taken showing Smithson at the wheel and an accomplice in the passenger seat.

Police started pursuing him on Lytham Road, leading to a five minute pursuit in which he made sudden turns, drove the wrong way up a one way street and crossed a pavement to evade officers.

The duo leapt from the van while it was still moving and officers had to grab and secure the van as it rolled and crashed into street furniture.

Smithson, who has six convictions for 14 offences, admitted two car thefts and dangerous driving.

Defending, Mark Stephenson, said there was no excuse for the way he drove in an urban area, but urged the judge to consider his tender age.

Judge David Potter said: " The vehicle was left in an absolutely disgraceful mess. Litter and food had been strewn about the glove box had been forced and the wheel was bent

"He was significantly harmed as a result of the theft at the age of 90. Those who are still able to drive at this age have the freedom and independence that would otherwise confine them for long periods at home."

Imposing a three year ban and extended retest, he said Smithson's driving during the pursuit was "persistent and very bad" as he took manoeuvres to escape the police, and pointed out the victim lost his means of livelihood and a significant quantity of tools.