A man who brazenly stole a JCB from a Deeside construction site and drove it down the street has been jailed for six months.

Mold Crown Court was told that a member of the public became suspicious, followed the machine and contacted the police.

Officers stopped Ray Williams as he was driving the JCB in Shotton Lane and arrested him.

It turned out that he was a disqualified driver.

Williams, 50, of High Street in Connah’s Quay, admitted theft and disqualified driving at the magistrates’ court on an earlier occasion.

He was given six months immediate custody after a suggestion that it should be suspended was rejected by Judge Niclas Parry.

“This was a planned theft,” the judge told him. “You targeted premises that by their very nature are vulnerable.

“Valuable, large machinery can only be stored outside.”

Williams went to the site with a group to “make this possible.”

Damage was caused to a fence surrounding the site as he targeted a high value item for theft.

Judge Parry said that the theft had a starting point of a year, but the range could go up to two years.

Williams had led a criminal lifestyle and had a number of previous convictions.

The judge said that he took into account his guilty pleas and the fact that he had been out of trouble since 2010.

He said that the JCB had been recovered undamaged, but he would be jailed for six months and that sentence would have to be served immediately.

Prosecuting barrister Ryan Rothwell said that a member of the public saw four men with a parked JCB.

It was started up and driven over a fence and he was so suspicious that he rang the police as the yellow and black JCB 530 Telehandler was driven down the road followed by others.

The witness followed, police stopped Williams and the vehicle was recovered undamaged.

He said that a man had asked him to pick up the machine and deliver it for him, but he could not give that man’s contact details.

A PNC check showed that the defendant was a disqualified driver.

Checks revealed that the JCB was owned by Best Construction Ltd
who had not given anyone consent to take it.

Defending barrister Oliver King said that  it was a brazen theft. By the nature of it, he was always going to get caught.

“How he expected to get away with it I don’t know,” he said.

He had taken the JCB and was openly driving it down the road.

“After some prevarication he said that he was doing it for a guy in the pub for some money,” said Mr King.

After a prolonged period of heroin addiction when he built up a number of convictions he had managed to turn his life around.

He had been working as a scaffolder, had stable accommodation and a partner.

Williams had been out of trouble for the longest period of his life, but some 18 months ago an arthritic problem in his knees meant that he could no longer work.

“He was at home, depressed and fed up and he slipped back into taking heroin,” said Mr King.

The defendant had no money to buy the drug and saw the theft of the JCB as a “quick and easy way to get money for his heroin”.

He was a medium risk of reoffending, he could be managed in the community, and Mr King argued that the root cause of his offending, the use of heroin, could be nipped in the bud under a suspended sentence.

There were various treatments available for his knee problems although there were waiting lists.

He hoped that after treatment he would be able to return to scaffolding.