£15k tool thief ruined Deeside students' studies

Published date: 25 April 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A BURGLARY at a Deeside college meant students were unable to complete their studies.

Tools to the value of £15,000 were stolen during a break-in at the motor vehicle centre at Coleg Cambria in Connah’s Quay last autumn.

Blood at the point of entry established a DNA match with Jack Harpur.

Harpur, 20, of Upper Bryn Road, Connah’s Quay, admitted the burglary but claimed he had acted alone.

He was sentenced to 15 months in a young offenders’ institute.

Mold Crown Court was told the education budget was restricted and there was no spare money to buy replacements.

The college had to make a claim on its insurance policy which would lead to higher premiums.

But while the college was awaiting replacement tools, it had an impact on the students and their ability to carry out their studies, said prosecutor James Coutts.

The burglary occurred between 4pm on October 30 and the morning of November 1 last year.

A lump of concrete had been thrown through a window at the vehicle building at the college.

An untidy search of the building had been carried out and a large number of tools had been taken.

Nine tool chests were stolen but two in a damaged condition had been found outside.

They had been damaged beyond repair.

Blood was found at the point of entry and DNA tests established it was from the defendant, who was arrested.

Scenes of crimes officers also found muddy footprints and smudged glove marks at the point of entry.

CCTV showed that a number of vehicles had been present and it was the prosecution case he had not acted alone, said Mr Coutts.

Interviewed, he denied  burglary. He said his prints may have been there from when he took his dog for a walk on a previous occasion.

Various valuations about the amount of property taken had been provided ranging from £27,000 to £15,000, but the prosecution presented the case on the figure of £15,000, which appeared in the burglary charge.

John Hedgecoe, defending, said his client had already been sentenced for two cannabis plants found at his home at the time of his arrest.

It was his client’s clear instructions he had acted alone during the burglary.

He had spent two hours ferrying the property from the college to the home of another person.

Judge Niclas Parry said it was a serious burglary which had an effect on the students’ studies.

It had to be immediate custody but he had received credit for his early guilty plea.

The judge added that Coleg Cambria provided an invaluable service preparing thousands of North Wales young people for employment.

“They cannot do that without practical equipment,” he said.

Judge Parry noted the burglary had all the hallmarks of a professional and planned operation .

“You clearly acted with another,” the judge told him, reiterating that the real victims were the students whose studies had been handicapped – apart from the enormous cost to the public purse.

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