Brazen thief in court after trying to sell stolen £5k railway carriage
BRAZEN thief Derek Patterson was paid almost £2,000 after arranging for a scrap dealer to pick up an 'irreplaceable' railway carriage – even though he didn't own it.
The 46-year-old grandfather worked with a friend to cash in on the carriage at the former Shelton Bar works because they thought it was scrap.
But the wagon was actually owned by developer St Modwen, valued at £5,000 and was destined to become a piece of public art at the Etruria Valley site.
It had been used to carry molten slag from the blast furnaces. Now Patterson – whose co-accused has never been caught – has been ordered to pay £2,000 compensation.
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Zoe Speake, prosecuting, told North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court: "The defendant told police he had been to view the railway carriage with a friend, and it was on some waste ground.
"He said he found a scrapyard and asked if they would collect it.
"The scrap dealer took the carriage to be weighed in, and gave the defendant £1,915.20."
The court heard Patterson had given his name and address to the scrapyard so was traced by police.
Miss Speake added: "The carriage was intended to be used as a public art exhibit in an upcoming development. It could not be recovered and was an irreplaceable item as there are no more of the carriages."
Patterson, pictured, of Marina Road, Trent Vale, pleaded guilty to theft.
The court heard he had been a heroin and crack cocaine addict since he was 25, but he was now on methadone.
Andrew Turnock, mitigating, said: "This was an audacious and spectacular offence.
"He could not possibly have known it was going to be used as public art in the future. To the untrained eye it was only suitable for scrap.
"He says the motivation for the theft was financial reasons, not for drugs. He has £4,000 in debts.
"He is a grandfather and he is on methadone. It's a point of shame for him.
"As he approaches 50 he wants to be rid of the lifestyle and the unsavoury associations that methadone has."
Patterson also admitted breaching a previous community order imposed for driving while disqualified.
He was given a six-week prison sentence for the theft, suspended for 18 months. He was also given an 18-month community order with supervision, and a 12-month drug rehabilitation order. He must also pay £85 costs.
Latest figures show 649 metal thefts were carried out in North Staffordshire in 2010/11, compared with 345 in 2009/10 and 583 in 2008/09.
Following yesterday's case, St Modwen Regional Director Mike Herbert said: "Metal theft is a major problem."