Getaway driver had illegal arms stash in his van
A FATHER-OF-FOUR has been jailed after he drove others to commit three burglaries and ended up in possession of illegal ammunition.
Larry Parkes, aged 40, drove his van to burglaries of outbuildings in rural locations where accomplices stole expensive goods including power tools and bikes.
Parkes admitted helping to load the van with the stolen goods but did not enter any of the buildings, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard yesterday.
Prosecutor Neil Ahuja said the first burglary took place at a cottage in Whitmore.
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The owner was awoken by the sound of an engine running. He looked out and saw three men loading a van.
He watched it drive off towards Newcastle but he noted the registration and called the police who traced the van to Parkes.
An officer visited the defendant's home in Mallorie Road, Norton, at 2.55am and waited for him to return at 3.30am.
Parkes was arrested and admitted there was ammunition in the front of the van. Police found four rifles, three swords and a bag containing ammunition which was live but of 'some antiquity'.
Other burglaries took place in Hill Chorlton and Chorlton between February 15 and February 17. The haul included three bikes, chainsaws, a hedge strimmer and garden blower.
Parkes, who has 25 previous convictions for 76 offences, pleaded guilty to three charges of burglary and possession of prohibited ammunition.
Robert Smith, mitigating, said Parkes did not enter the outbuildings and had no say in what items were stolen.
He said the defendant had let himself and his family down.
"He was in a significant amount of debt," said Mr Smith.
"Out of desperation he engaged in this foolish enterprise."
Judge Paul Glenn jailed Parkes for two years and banned him from driving for the same length of time as he used his vehicle to commit a crime.
Judge Glenn said: "The last time you were involved in any form of burglary was back in 1998. Your offending has slowed down a lot in the last 10 years and you have no convictions at all for more than three years."
But he added: "These were serious burglaries. There was plainly a potential for confrontation with householders but I accept outbuildings were the target. You and your accomplices travelled a significant distance to target properties in rural locations in the early hours.
"You must have gone equipped to commit these burglaries and cutting equipment was plainly used.
"A significant amount of property was stolen."
Judge Glenn added it would be unjust to impose the minimum five year sentence for firearms offences as Parkes's possession was extremely short-lived.