A FLINTSHIRE man has been jailed for his part in a "brazen, broad daylight theft" of high value vehicles.

Matthew James Tipping, of Broadway in Connah's Quay appeared at Mold Crown Court for sentence on Thursday alongside John Thomas Lee, of Suez Street in Newton Le Willows.

Tipping, 35, had previously admitted that in June of 2019, he stole a Volvo 360 excavator worth £30,000 in Kinmel Bay, and a £12,000 mini digger in Rhyl.

Lee, 27, admitted that on the day of Tipping's offences (June 30), he handled both of those stolen vehicles.

Jade Tufail, prosecuting, said the mini digger taken from Westbourne Avenue in Rhyl was being used for roadworks in the area and belonged to Rees Plant Hire.

It was fitted with a tracker and was traced to Kinmel Bay, where it stopped.

CCTV picked it up being loaded onto a trailer being pulled by a white van with cloned number plates.

Tipping was sighted in the front passenger seat, but the driver was never located.

The digger, along with a stolen excavator belonging to James Cyf, made their way to a farm near Rossett.

The site's owner returned to find three men unloading the vehicles - one of whom was Lee.

The court heard Lee's role in the offences was to 'deflect' attention from the stolen goods, and for a time the farm owner was convinced by his explanation about why they were there.

But when he heard one of the men explaining the digger needed to be started by bypassing the wiring, and following an appeal on social media for information about the equipment, he became suspicious.

He called the police and the vehicles were later returned to their owners.

Lee and Tipping were arrested and initially declined to answer questions.

The court heard Tipping has 18 convictions for 36 offences - six of which concerned dishonesty.

Jemma Gordon, defending Tipping, said: "He was on benefits, but in the last two weeks he has managed to find work as a car body sprayer.

"He said he is sick and tired of going in and out of prison, and he had no one to blame for that but himself but it's something he needs to stop. "He has served prison sentences before and they haven't prevented him from reoffending.

"He knows he's in a difficult position."

Judge Niclas Parry told the defendants: "You admitted playing your part in a brazen, broad daylight theft of extremely high value goods - goods which were essential to the employment of men and women.

"There may have been up to four or five people involved in this pre-planned crime. "Mr Tipping, you played a major role. And you Mr Lee knew they were stolen - you were trying to deflect those who were suspicious about what was going on.

"The goods were recovered, mercifully.

"Mr Tipping, your case is aggravated by your history - you were on a suspended sentence when you committed these and you've continued to offend after this and have been to prison. "You've had three suspended sentences and breached all of them."

Tipping received a 12 month sentence on each of the two theft charges, to run concurrent, after the Judge said there was no realistic prospect of his rehabilitation.

Lee, who admitted the offence on the basis he initially was not aware of any issue with the machinery, had only one previous conviction for a motoring offence.

The court heard at a previous hearing, it was decided by Recorder John Philpotts that there would be an alternative to immediate custody in his case, in the event of a positive pre-sentence report.

Judge Parry handed him a four month sentence but suspended it for one year.

He must observe a two month curfew by way of punishment.

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