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Prison threat for teenager

PUBLISHED: 10:29 21 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:26 05 July 2010

A council grass cutter was handed a suspended prison sentence yesterday after he stole a £36,000 tractor and drove it down the A143.

Matthew Barley, 19, was pulled over by police at the entrance to Fritton Woods, near Yarmouth, after he took the JCB from a building site in nearby Bradwell.

A council grass cutter was handed a suspended prison sentence yesterday after he stole a £36,000 tractor and drove it down the A143.

Matthew Barley, 19, was pulled over by police at the entrance to Fritton Woods, near Yarmouth, after he took the JCB from a building site in nearby Bradwell.

Yarmouth magistrates yesterday heard that Barley, formerly of Lowestoft but now of Flixton, near Bungay, had been coerced and pressured into stealing the vehicle from the Cornfields site on April 12. He was given a two-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after he earlier admitted stealing the tractor.

Barley was also given six points on his licence after he pleaded guilty to driving the JCB while disqualified.

Elizabeth Houghton, prosecuting, said: “A member of the public saw the JCB being driven out of the building site, thought this odd and called the police.”

Police stopped Barley on the A143 at Fritton Woods and the teenager told officers 'I do not work there. I did steal it'.

The court heard that Barley and another man entered the compound and his unnamed accomplice started the JCB and asked him to drive it away.

Ms Houghton said: “It was clearly planned. Keys were taken in order to start the JCB. He was clearly stealing to order.”

However the court was told that Barley, who has a previous conviction for taking a vehicle without consent, claimed he had been made to take the vehicle because he had been threatened and coerced.

Rob Pollington, in mitigation, said: “He is a patsy. He was approached and asked to do the leg work. He had an extreme amount of pressure exerted on him and made the decision to assist. He is very, very sorry, for want of a better word, for being an idiot.”

Barley was also made the subject of a year-long supervision and behaviour management course and ordered to pay £60 costs.

Chairman of the bench Vincent Marcantonio told him: “You can stand in front of a mirror and say you were an idiot to yourself.”

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