Kirkby car thief apologised to owner after crashing it

Church Lane, Kirkby
Church Lane, Kirkby

A homeless man stole a car from a garage then returned and apologised to the owner after crashing into another vehicle in Kirkby, a court heard.

CCTV recorded Neil Burchell (SP) driving a Citreon C4 from the forecourt of the BSC garage, off Park Lane, at 6.20am, on October 1.

He collided with the front nearside of a council worker's van on Church Street, Kirkby, later in the day, said prosecutor Donna Fawcett.

"The driver was shocked and had pain to his left side," she said. "He had to kick his way out of the van."

He saw Burchell with blood running down his face as he ran off in the direction of the church.

Bloody tissues in the stolen car were later matched to Burchell's DNA.

At 5pm Burchell visited the garage owner and said sorry for taking the car, which was seriously damaged, and for the accident.

"He said - " I need help,"" Ms Fawcett said.

He was last in court on October 2018, when he received 20 weeks in prison for possession of a knife, in August 2018, she added.

His post sentence supervision finished on October 21, and he attended nine out of 16 appointments, and he was fined for one breach.

He failed to attend court on October 25, Ms Fawcett added.

Chris Lacey, mitigating, said Burchell had been out of trouble for eight or nine years before the knife offence.

"At that point he was living in the back of an open back lorry," he said. "The knife was clearly a well-used knife he would eat with.

"The reason the court imposed custody was because of the lack of any other sentence that could be imposed.

"He was living on the street and on the charity of others. A local Indian restaurant in Kirkby is helping feed the homeless and he is indebted to them.

"There's seemingly no reason why he committed this offence."

Burchell, 50, admitted aggravated vehicle taking, failing to stop after an accident, and driving with no insurance or a licence, and failing to attend court, when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Wednesday.

District judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "This involved a road traffic accident where death could have been caused, and is aggravated by your failiure to attend court.

"I take the view that the public need protection from your activities."

He received 20 weeks in prison and was banned from driving for two weeks.

He was ordered to pay a £122 government surcharge on his release.

For more cases from Mansfield Magistrates Court, click here.