Fakenham man escapes prison after Little Snoring crime spree

A 20-year-old apprentice who went on a 'wanton and gratuitous' spree, causing more than �35,000 in damage, was told he had one last chance as he escaped a prison sentence.

Thomas Wade, of Queens Road, Fakenham, who admitted aggravated vehicle taking, arson, damage of property and theft, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence at Norwich Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard that he damaged high-value agricultural equipment between October last year and January this year in order to show off to younger peers.

In November, he set light to a JCB vehicle which had been left in the middle of Little Snoring airfield.

Nick Methold, prosecuting, said that Wade had told police he was trying to steal diesel, but he had not brought anything to carry the diesel away in and so had set light to it in the spur of the moment.

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He also stole the radio and two wrenches.

Early the next morning he returned with friends. 'He thought it right to take friends of his to show them the extent of the damage,' said Mr Methold.

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The previous month he had taken a tractor from Little Snoring airfield with friends.

'It was driven around west Norfolk for two hours, damaging road signs,' he added.

Neil Guest, representing Wade, said his client had never troubled the courts before. He added that Wade was reaching the end of a five-year apprenticeship with Freebridge Community Housing in December and that if he were sent to prison he would lose his job.

He said that Wade had fallen into bad company.

Sentencing Wade, recorder Guy Ayers said all reports given to him had cast Wade in a positive light. He said that Wade had been in employment and that he had told his employer of his predicament.

'I suspect that you behaved in a group in a different way than you would behave on your own, but I do not accept that you fell in with a bad crowd,' he said.

He added: 'I have a difficult balancing act to carry out in this case.

'As an individual there is a lot to see in your favour, but the offending is exceptionally serious and of high value. It is also one of these cases where the court has to consider the message it is sending out for other people in your group.'

As well as a 12-month suspended prison sentence, Wade was ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work and given a six-month curfew between 7pm and 7am.

He was also ordered to pay �1,250 in costs.

'Anybody else whose behaviour was similar may not have the same amount of mitigation and would have faced a much more severe punishment,' he said.


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