Thief found with £60,000 of property

A thief found with property worth £60,000 was jailed yesterday after claiming he suffered from a compulsive disorder which meant he had to keep his garage full.

A thief found with property worth £60,000 was jailed yesterday after claiming he suffered from a compulsive disorder which meant he had to keep his garage full.

Nigel Askew, 42, of Water Mill Green, Thetford, denied a charge of concealing criminal property and insisted during

his trial that he was unaware that any of the stock - ranging from bath taps and tools to road maps and Sky TV controls - had been stolen.

However, he was found guilty and was jailed for three years at Ipswich Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to another charge of attempted theft and another of theft.

Judge Neil McKittrick dismissed Askew's claims of a disorder and said he did not accept that he had been a "magpie-like" collector. He said: "It was not need but greed."

Askew claimed that after giving up lorry driving because of a bad back he had decided to start a business selling at car-boot sales.

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But the prosecution said he had failed to ask questions about the original source of the stock he obtained, much of it having been bought dishonestly or stolen.

Askew had gone on a 3½- year buying spree, often purchasing goods in bulk and using the garage at his home in Thetford as a warehouse.

He was caught in November 2005 after a security guard at B&Q in Ipswich spotted him attempting to repack a shower unit into the box of a much less-expensive item.

Askew left the store but the guard noted the registration number of his car and within 45 minutes he had been stopped by police. A search of the vehicle revealed a large quantity of goods.

That led to a search of his home where a vast haul of items including cosmetics, tools, books, stationery, kitchen taps. Sky TV remote controls and pet products was uncovered.

Askew went on to steal items worth £314 from a B&Q store in Yarmouth in October last year, while he was on bail.

Amy Mannion, mitigating, said that Askew suffered from compulsive behaviour, having previously had compulsions for fruit machines and alcohol.

As a result of the condition, he felt a need to keep his garage full with stock.

Jailing Askew, Judge McKittrick told him: "People sometimes think that shoplifting is caused through financial need but when you were arrested within 45 minutes of leaving the B&Q store in a hurry you had £831 on your person.

"You had more than enough money to pay for the items. It was driven by greed which is a very different thing."