Man jailed over JCB wrecking spree

A man has been jailed for four and a half years for a catalogue of crimes, including a JCB wrecking spree in which he destroyed parts of a village.

Nottingham Crown Court was shown police helicopter footage of Steven Regan, 34, driving a JCB digger he had stolen from a Barratt Homes building site on July 2 this year.

He was first spotted on CCTV driving the vehicle on the A60 in Church Warsop, near Mansfield, at a speed of between 15mph and 20mph, which prosecutor Jon Fountain said was fast for that type of machinery.

In a bid to avoid police officers he ploughed through hedges and fields into a park area and then into a cemetery.

He lost control as he was driving on the main footpath through the cemetery and smashed into a number of headstones, destroying them in the process.

The court heard he used the digger to ram three times the 100-year-old stone and wrought iron cemetery gates to get out the other side.

Regan, of Colenso Terrace in Leeds, was detained by officers on the road not far from the cemetery after the JCB came to a halt because of a deflated tyre.

Mr Fountain said an estimated £15,000 of damage was caused in the cemetery.

Sentencing him today Judge Tony Mitchell described the JCB he was driving as a "ram rod" and said he was behaving like a "man possessed" as he tried to get away from police, actions which would have terrified people in the area.

The judge said little defence could be offered for Regan's actions, which were part of a larger operation in which he was paid to steal the vehicles and deliver them to others.

He told Regan: "You were but a pawn. You were part and parcel of what was quite clearly a sophisticated act of criminality by others and you know who those persons were.

"You know who was paying you. You may not know everyone but about that aspect you said not a word."

In a previous hearing at Nottingham Crown Court, Regan indicated he would plead guilty to the charges against him in relation to the JCB incident.

Today he formally entered guilty pleas to theft, dangerous driving, damaging property, driving without insurance and having no licence.

He also pleaded guilty to burglary after he stole a Volvo mini digger and a JCB from a unit in Leeds in June.

Regan asked the judge to take into consideration another 16 offences of similar thefts which he said he committed on various dates through 2010 and this year.

Regan was jailed for a total of 54 months for all of the offences, half of which would be served in prison before he would be released on licence.

For the driving offences he was disqualified for five years, after which he would have to pass an extended driving test before getting his licence back.