Thief set up "cottage industry" selling tools stolen from Bamber Bridge B and Q store

Crown Court
Crown Court
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A criminal who began stealing and selling on pricey tools has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term.

Lee Montague was a prolific offender but had kept out of trouble for a decade until his recent spree, Preston Crown Court was told.

The 48-year-old, of Hollinshead Street, Chorley, gained “employment and stability” but after succumbing to drugs he lost his job and his life “spiralled”, his defence lawyer said.

On June 17 last year, Montague took his son’s partner’s car without permission and crashed it into another car while looking at his phone.

Prosecuting, Stuart Neale said the accident happened at 1pm at the junction of Pall Mall and Tootell Street in Chorley.

He said: “There was a head on collision.

“The defendant struck the car and bounced doff to the right. He got out and apologised."

The court heard £5,000 damage was caused to the other car and massive damage was caused to the car he had taken, which will not be covered by insurance.

He admitted aggravated vehicle taking and a series of subsequent theft and fraud offences.

Mr Neale added: “Between July 9 and 14 he set himself up in a cottage industry driving to B and Q, stealing items and going off to Cash Converters and getting money for the goods he’d stolen.”

A store manager checked CCTV and saw Montague and another man driving to and from the store in a Nissan Micra - and on the final day tried to pursue him.

In all he stole nine drills worth £1,244. Only three were recovered by police.

Judge Beverley Lunt said: “To say this is a spree would be an understatement. What’s gone wrong?”

“ To have kept out of trouble for nine years showed a real change in your life, no question about it, and is a huge length of time for someone of your quite appalling record.

“The question is have you begun to leave this lifestyle behind you?”

She agreed to suspend his two year jail term for two years and imposed a drug rehabilitation order, but warned he would go “straight to prison” if he breached it.