HAILSHAM: Man fined for theft of drain covers

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A SKINT jobseeker resorted to pinching drain covers in order to sell them for scrap metal.

Walter Thame, of The Holt in Hailsham, was stopped by police at just before 3am on July 15 driving through an industrial estate in a white Ford tipper – complete with two drain covers in the back.

He told police he had bought the vehicle from a friend who worked on the highways and that, having fallen out with his girlfriend, he was going to spend the night in it.

However, having clocked off later that morning, one of the officers realised a number of drain covers had been stolen and Thame was soon arrested.

The 22-year-old appeared at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court this week where he pleaded guilty to theft.

There, Kevin Thomson, prosecuting, told the court that Thame had planned to sell the covers - worth about £60 each - to a scrap metal dealer in Heathfield.

Ellen Wallace, defending, said Thame had spent two days collecting metal after missing a meeting with his benefits officer which had meant he was unlikely to receive regular payments for at least two weeks.

She said, “This was not something he planned.

“He was simply short of cash and had missed an appointment at the employment office.

“He had collected some scrap legally but the weight was not a lot and on the spur of the moment he very foolishly decided to take the covers which would have increased the value.

“There are no drugs or alcohol involved. He just needed some extra cash. This is a bit like shoplifting.

“The items are small and they have been recovered.”

Ms Wallace added that, having spent the weekend in the cells since his Friday arrest, Thame had had plenty of time to reflect on what he had done.

She said, “He has acknowledged that what he did was not just dishonest but also dangerous.”

Chairman of the bench Ann Thow said, “This is so stupid. It was ridiculous behaviour and we do not take kindly to it.”

Thame was fined £233, ordered to pay costs of £85 and told to pay a victim surcharge of £15.