Burglar, formerly of Sidmouth, is jailed after months on the run

PUBLISHED: 16:00 04 October 2018

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

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A burglar who tried to steal tools from a barn has been jailed after a quick-witted farmer jumped off his tractor and caught him red handed.

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex WaltonExeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Trevor Gray abandoned his car at the farm at Crediton and fled on foot when farmer’s son Samuel Ayre spotted him and another intruder loading a hedge trimmer and other kit into the boot.

Gray, formerly of Lock Close, Sidmouth, and fellow burglar John Milligan legged it down a country lane but were found by police in a nearby pub. They were then linked to the abandoned car by DNA.

Gray was found guilty of burglary by a jury at Exeter Crown Court in January but jumped bail and went on the run for seven months before he could be sentenced.

He was caught after drinking two litres of vodka and stealing a road sweeper lorry from a council depot in Landrake, Cornwall, on August 18, the court heard.

Gray Trevor Lee. Picture: Devon and Cornwall PoliceGray Trevor Lee. Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police

The stolen vehicle was stopped by police on the A38 at Deep Lane, Plymouth, when a stinger device was used to deflate four of its six tyres after a ten mile, low speed chase.

Gray, aged 30, who is now of no fixed abode, admitted jumping bail. But he was not in the dock because he refused to leave his cell at Exeter Prison, where he is serving a 25-week sentence imposed by Truro Magistrates for the road sweeper offences.

He was sentenced to one year and eight months by Recorder Ms Jane Rowley.

Milligan, aged 34, from Exeter, who admitted the burglary, was jailed for 12 months after the trial in January.

The recorder told Gray: “This offence was so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.

“The aggravating features are your previous convictions for dishonesty and your failure to attend court.”

At the earlier trial, the jury heard how Gray and Milligan drove to Shute Farm on April 9, 2017 and went into an outbuilding to steal equipment including a hedge-trimmer, chainsaw, leaf blower and strimmer.

Gray has 19 previous convictions, but all for taking vehicles or driving offences, and none for burglary.

Mr William Parkhill, defending, asked the judge to pass a sentence in line with that imposed on Milligan and not to add more than a short period for the breach of bail.

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