Overnight thefts saw man help carry out 23 vehicle raids
A Frome man who went on a wrecking spree with his friend, breaking into 23 vehicles in one night on his own housing estate has been sentenced to a community order by the courts.
South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates told Ashley Palmer they had seriously considered sending him to prison for the offences but said they wanted to give him the opportunity to sort his life out.
The court heard that one of the victims left his car parked overnight and when he returned the following morning a front window had been smashed and items including a wallet and its contents had been taken from inside.
Acting on a tip-off, the police went to Palmer's address and found a stash of stolen items taken from the vehicles and his co-defendant, Jason Fenby, hiding under his bed.
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Palmer, 21, of Weston Walk, pleaded guilty to jointly stealing a wallet and contents belonging to Sammy White between November 26 and 28. He also asked for 22 other similar offences to be taken into consideration.
Gordon Richings, prosecuting, said that Mr White's car had been targeted while it was left parked in Portland Road overnight on November 26/27 and when the police were given information they went to the defendant's address.
"It transpired that a further 22 vehicles were broken into that night and when officers searched Palmer's bedroom they found a bank card in Mr White's name along with other items," he said.
"Another male, Jason Fenby, was also found hiding under Palmer's bed and was also arrested and they admitted the offences."
The court was told that Fenby had already been dealt with by the court and given a 16-week suspended prison sentence along with 80 hours' unpaid work.
Defending solicitor Sam Morton said that Palmer, who had been released from a Young Offenders Institution a year before the offence, had never gone stealing from cars before and was very candid with the police.
"He has been working as a tarmaccer and started using cocaine again but was funding it through his work," he said, "Sadly that work came to an end and he still had a problem with cocaine.
"Fenby was the one responsible for breaking into the vehicles but Palmer accepts he stayed there with the bag and the contents were given to him or hidden in a nearby hedge if they were too big.
"He has been punished to a degree as he was recalled to prison for 28 days because of committing these offences and he now wants to get out of Frome because of the people he associates with there."
The magistrates sentenced Palmer to a nine-month community order with a supervision requirement and also ordered him to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £25 towards costs.
They told Fenby the huge amount of compensation requested by the victims was too great for him to be able to pay so ordered individual claims would have to be met through insurers.