A man who used a stolen lorry cab to make off with a trailer loaded with almost 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs before surrendering to police with his hands up has been jailed for 18 months.
Joby Pool, 32, used a metal grinder to break into an industrial unit in Telford, Shropshire, at around 7.30pm on February 11, before driving off with assorted chocolate goods worth more than £31,000.
At Shrewsbury Crown Court on Thursday, Pool, of Dewsbury Road, Tingley, near Leeds, was jailed by Judge Anthony Lowe for a year and a half, with half of that to be spent in prison and the other half on license.
The six months he has already spent in custody will count towards the nine months behind bars.
The court heard Pool had used a tractor unit that had been stolen in the Yorkshire area in October to tow away the trailer, which was itself worth around £23,000, full of Cadbury products from an industrial unit belonging to SW Group Logistics in Stafford Park, Telford.
The stolen chocolate was then driven onto the northbound M42, where Pool surrendered by walking towards police “with his hands up” near junction 11, a court hearing previously heard.
Pool, who appeared in the dock wearing a grey long-sleeved Adidas shirt on Thursday, had previously admitted theft, criminal damage to a lock at the trailer park and driving without insurance.
Defending Pool, Debra White said he has shown “genuine remorse” for what he had done and was sorry for the effect it had had on his family and the company involved.
She said: “There were two significant losses in his life, then a third loss in terms of his relationship, and a fourth in terms of the loss of his business.
“There were difficult things he was dealing with and he turned to drugs and alcohol as a crutch, which made things much worse for him.
“He has taken full responsibility. He is not self-pitying, he feels remorseful for the company involved and his family because he knows he has let them down.
“He has been away from them for nearly six months now and they have had to try and cope with that.
“The action he took getting involved with this has impacted on so many people and he is genuinely sorry for that, but he has been punished already by the fact he has been in custody for five and a half months.”
Judge Lowe said he was not convinced Pool was the only person involved in the planning of the theft.
He said: “Whatever the reason as to why you got involved and whether or not you appreciated the seriousness of what you were doing at the time, in my opinion, you got involved in very serious offending.
“If one looks at what must have happened here, we are looking at a significant degree of planning.
“There was the taking of a tractor unit that was driven from Castleford down here to carry out the theft. There must have been inside information or a recce to identify the trailer and if it was worth taking.
“An angle grinder was taken and false plates were obtained to put on the trailer. I am pretty sure others would have been involved in this enterprise. I don’t know what you intended to do with the trailer.
“You are not a man of good character as you have committed theft before in 2019.”
As well as the jail sentence, Judge Lowe added one month to be served concurrently for the criminal damage offence, and added six points to Pool’s driving licence for driving without insurance.
In a series of tweets posted two days after the theft, West Mercia Police told how they “helped save Easter” after foiling the thief.
They said: “West Mercia Police has helped save Easter for Creme Egg fans after almost 200,000 of the chocolate treats were stolen from a unit in Stafford Park in Telford.
“The eggs-travagent theft took place on Saturday 11 February with the chocolate collection box thought to be worth around £40,000. Along with the Creme Eggs, a number of other chocolate varieties were also stolen.
“Shortly after the theft a vehicle, presumably purporting to be the Easter bunny, was stopped northbound on the M42 and a man was arrested on suspicion of theft.”