Gang that targeted lorries has been jailed

BUNGLING ring-leaders of a gang that targeted lorries parked in the Huntingdon area have been jailed — despite managing to steal just three mattresses between them. Ten men, all from the Leeds and Bradford area, were sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court

BUNGLING ring-leaders of a gang that targeted lorries parked in the Huntingdon area have been jailed - despite managing to steal just three mattresses between them.

Ten men, all from the Leeds and Bradford area, were sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday (Thursday 2) after admitting conspiring to steal.

Judge Nicholas Coleman said: "These were acts of villainy targeting vulnerable parked lorries as their drivers slept in lay-bys."

John Farmer, prosecuting, told the court how the gang drove to the A14 on two occasions in 2005, searching for lorries to steal from.

On June 7, 2005, eight of the men stole three mattresses from the back of a lorry parked at a lay-by near Bar Hill on the A14.

Later that night the men slashed curtains on lorries parked near the A1, causing £2,500 worth of damage, but finding nothing to steal.

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On being stopped by police, some of the men claimed to have been visiting a Peterborough restaurant.

The men said that they had only stopped at the Bar Hill lay-by to urinate. This was despite that lay-by being 40 miles out of their way, Mr Farmer said.

One of the bungling raiders, Rizwan Hussain, had even used a van belonging to his family business, bearing an easily-traceable personalised number plate.

On the second occasion, on August 22 2005, seven of the men slashed the curtains of three lorries in a lay-by at Hemingford Grey but found nothing to steal.

This time some of the men were in a pilot vehicle, which was again stopped by police. Some of the men gave false names, and one, Sean Morgan, ate his mobile phone SIM card to prevent it linking the car to the other vehicle, Mr Farmer added.

Simon Batiste, representing three of the accused, described the attempted thefts as 'cack-handed' and 'lacking any sophistication whatsoever'.

Five of the gang were involved in both the June and August raids and received prison sentences.

Ring-leaders Morgan, 29, of Manor Farm Close, Belleisle, Leeds, and Philip Loftus, 27, of Maryfield Crescent, Leeds, were each sentenced to two years in prison, to serve half.

Dean Clark, 27, of Parkwood Road, Leeds, and Jamie Gallagher, 22, of Normanton Place, Beeston, Leeds each received 20 months in prison, to serve half.

Michael McCormack, 29, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, to serve half.

The remaining five men were involved in only one trip or the other and were spared prison. However, each man received 240 hours community service and will wear an electronic tag to enforce a curfew from 8pm-6am for six months.

Hussain, 27, of Barkerend Road, Bradford received a 12-month supervision order.

Robert Millar, 40, of Northcourt Crescent, Beeston, Leeds received a prison sentence of 51 weeks, suspended for 18 months.

Ghani Akhbar, 29, of Raglan Terrace, Bradford, and Jonathan McCormack, 23, of Nancroft Terrace, Leeds, both received a prison sentence of 51 weeks, suspended for 18 months and 18-month supervision orders.

David Whitely, 27, of Throstel Terrace, Leeds, received a prison sentence of 51 weeks, suspended for 18 months and a 12-month supervision order.

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