Phone thief saves up enough to stay out of jail

QUITTING smoking and drinking helped a family man avoid jail after he was caught stealing mobile phones. The resulting £1,500 which Wayne Loveridge managed to save during the past six months was enough to persuade a judge to order him to carry out unpaid

QUITTING smoking and drinking helped a family man avoid jail after he was caught stealing mobile phones.

The resulting £1,500 which Wayne Loveridge managed to save during the past six months was enough to persuade a judge to order him to carry out unpaid community work instead.

Loveridge was appearing at Ipswich Crown Court to be sentenced after admitting three charges of theft and asking for 28 others to be taken into account.

The 28-year-old stole £6,000 worth of mobile phones from Phones4U stores across the country - including Huntingdon - entering into contracts which he then cancelled but retaining the handsets which Loveridge sold at car boot sales for as little as £25 each.


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The offences were committed in 2003 and 2004 while Loveridge, of Cow Lane, Rampton, was unemployed and living on benefits. He was struggling to provide for his young family, the court heard.

Loveridge originally appeared at Peterborough Crown Court in January but Judge Neil McKittrick postponed sentence to allow him to gather as much money as possible to compensate Phones4U for the stolen phones.

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Yesterday (Tuesday), the same judge, said that Loveridge appeared to have heeded warnings that, unless he could come up with a substantial sum in cash, he would face a jail sentence.

Appearing for Loveridge, lawyer Mark Shelley said that he was now working as a self-employed scrap metal dealer and had managed to save £1,500.

"It may not seem a huge sum of money but it is when you appreciate that he is struggling with a young family," said Mr Shelley. "It has been paid for by not going out, not smoking and not drinking."

Judge McKittrick said that Loveridge had, by saving money and not committing any further offences, managed to comply with the requirements of the court.

"It seems entirely proper now that I say I can deal with you in the community rather than send you off to prison."

Loveridge was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work and pay £1,500 compensation immediately and a further £1,500 at the rate of £25 a week. He must also pay £200 towards the costs of the prosecution.

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