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Gloucestershire Business News

'Third-strike' Cheltenham burglar stole high value vehicles

A 22-year-old Cheltenham man who stole high value vehicles by breaking into the owner's homes and stealing the keys will have to wait to learn what his sentence will be.

Gloucester Crown Court heard on Friday (November 25) that Jake Macleod-Hay of Lee Close, Cheltenham has this year (2022) stolen a Porsche, two Audi A4s, an Audi TT, a Hyundai SUV and a VW Scirocco.

Prosecutor Ellen McAnaw said that on August 22, the owners of a property in Arle Road, Cheltenham were sleeping when they were awoken by lights coming on downstairs.

She said: "Before they could do anything about it, they saw their Audi TT being driven off the driveway."

The court was told that CCTV cameras revealed that MacLeod-Hay had jumped over fencing to gain access to the back garden and forced his way into the property.

MacLeod-Hay was identified through blood he left on a window when he forced open and it was matched to his DNA profile. He was later arrested but made no comment.

As well as Macleod-Hay taking the keys to the Audi TT he also stole a wallet, bank cards, a driving licence and cash to a value of £150, the court was told.

The victims said in a statement that following the break-ins they had to re-evaluate their home security and had since decided to move and put the house on the market, despite having recently renovated it. They have been left out of pocket by some £4,000, despite being reimbursed for the theft of the vehicle by the insurance company.

The court was told Macleod-Hay volunteered that he was responsible for the theft of other high value vehicles this year by breaking into dwellings and stealing the keys from inside the property.

He stole two Audi A4's from different addresses on March 3; a Porsche on March 21; a VW Scirocco and a Hyundai SUV from different addresses, sometime overnight on June 27/28. Macleod-Hay told the court that he wanted these vehicle thefts to be taken into consideration when he is sentenced.

One of the victims of the other high value vehicles said: "I want the offender to realise the impact his crimes effect the people he targets. It's not just the material things like the damage he causes and the theft of property, it's the lasting effect it has on us and our relationships."

Ms McAnaw said that Macleod-Hay was a 'third strike' plus burglar and was therefore subject to a minimum sentence of at least three years. She explained that Macleod-Hay has amassed 11 convictions for 41 offences, many of which are for burglaries and vehicle thefts.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC observed: "With Macleod-Hay asking for all the other matters into consideration when he is sentenced, it clears up a lot of casework for the police. It's also great sweep of judicial work that has therefore also been cleared up."

Matthew Harbinson, defending, said that as a child Macleod-Hay was taken into care. He was initially brought up by his grandmother because his parents had significant drug habits and were not capable of looking after a child. However, as a result of a bereavement, he lost his personal protective care and was taken into care by the local authority. The majority of his offending occurred during this period.

Mr Harbinson added: "Because of the TICs there are no outstanding charges against him. He plans on turning his life around. While he has been remanded in prison he has been recounting in as much detail about the cars he had taken.

"Macleod-Hay effectively got involved with the wrong crowd. He didn't make much money, if any, from the thefts. He explained that he parked the vehicles as instructed at a particular location, from where it was collected by others.

"This was a spate of offending that he admits. Macleod-Hay felt that he was not prepared to disclose anything further about what happened to the vehicles or how he had come by the addresses of where to go."

Judge Lawrie remarked: He needs to be sentenced for the offences, yet he needs to be recognised for the efforts he has made in volunteering all this additional information."

Macleod-Hay, pleaded guilty to burglary of a house in Arle Road, Cheltenham on August 23, 2022, and stealing car keys and taking an Audi TT.

Judge Lawrie told Macleod-Hay on Friday (November 25) that he would not be sentencing him because, under the circumstances, he required a pre-sentence report and added: "This doesn't mean you will not be receiving a custodial sentence, but it does mean that I shall be paying you some respect for admitting all those other crimes.

"The gravity of your offending merits custody, under the minimum sentencing terms. But I am now looking at the possibility of alternative sentence."

Macleod-Hay was remanded in custody until he is sentenced on December 21.

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