Burglar Craig Layland, 31, from Stoke-on-Trent, sold the mobility aid on the online buying and selling site Gumtree the day after the owner had died on New Year’s Day. Layland was already the subject of a suspended jail sentence for burglary when he committed this crime.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court has now handed Layland with a community order. Prosecutor Barry White said that the mobility scooter owner was a lady that had left her scooter outside of her fire damaged home in Cheadle. Unfortunately, the lady passed on New Year’s Day.
The following day Layland, along with another man, were both seen in the victims garden looking through items including a fridge freezer, before making off with the scooter. Layland pleaded guilty to theft and breach of a suspended sentence.
It was also reported that the owner of the scooter had not lived in the house since a fire had tore through the property in June, leaving the property uninhabitable.
Layland, who has 17 convictions for 58 previous offences, was reportedly working in the salvage business when the theft happened. He and another man came across the mobility scooter after seeing the boarded up house with various white goods sitting outside. Layland’s defence mitigation said it was a mistake on their part to take the scooter, but he was under the impression that this was an abandoned property, so he helped himself.
Layland was traced from his van’s registration plate, and within 24 hours of the theft the scooter had been recovered. The defendant had sold the scooter via Gumtree, but in order to get it back he had actually ended up paying twice the amount that he had originally sold it for. Layland had realised it was a mistake to take the scooter, so had made the effort to return it to the family straight away.
Judge Paul Glenn went on to deliver Layland a sentence of a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work for the theft as well as 40 hours unpaid work for breaching the suspended sentence he was already under at the time of the crime.
Judge Glenn told Layland: “You had absolutely no right to be going into people’s gardens and taking any property at all without permission. It was pretty obvious to you it worked and it was valuable. That is why you sold it the same day. It is a very sad state of affairs when people take this sort of property from someone who died the previous day. You weren’t to know that. But it was a fairly brazen theft. You took some steps to ensure it was recovered so there was no financial loss.”
Judge Glenn summed up his sentence with a stark warning for Layland: “Breach the order and you go to prison. You have had your last chance.”
Layland’s accomplice in the scooter theft was also sentenced to a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.