JCB thief jailed after leading police on 12-mile chase through Derbyshire

Jailed: Scott Thorpe.
Jailed: Scott Thorpe.

A thief led police on a bizarre 15mph chase through Derbyshire while driving a stolen eight-tonne JCB.

Scott Thorpe entered the Ilkeston building site and smashed his way out using the telescopic handler he had got behind the wheel of.

Residents hearing the commotion alerted the site owner and the police and the pursuit towards the M1 began.

CCTV footage, played at Derby Crown Court, showed part of the 12-mile chase which lasted almost an hour in total.

During it, the 34-year-old forced oncoming vehicles to swerve to avoid a collision, cross the white lines and ignore traffic signals.

Towards the end of the pursuit officers used their “stinger” device in an attempt to burst the JCB’s tyres.

But Thorpe even managed to evade it swerving the vehicle and narrowly avoiding crashing into a bridge that could have sent him and the vehicle plummeting on to the motorway.

He then jumped out of the telehandler which carried on moving and attempted to run away and hide.

But he is chased and caught by a force police dog and arrested

Jailing Thorpe for two years, Judge Philip Wassall, said: “You caused a really high risk of someone being caused really serious injuries because of the size of the vehicle.

“It was a JCB telehandler, weighing something between six and eight tonnes which you had stolen.

“The speed might have been slow but this went on for 12 miles and at one point you swerve to avoid the stinger on a bridge over the M1.

“Goodness knows what would have happened of you had gone through the fence.”

Abigail Joyce, prosecuting, said Thorpe, of Meadow Lane, Alfreton, got inside the building site, in Ilkeston, at around 9pm on October 27.

She said he took the JCB’s keys from a cabin and used it to plough through the fencing and drive away.

Miss Joyce said: “He then proceeded to drive at 15mph for the next 12 miles with the amber lights illuminated.

“A police vehicle was following him for the duration and during the pursuit he drove on the wrong side of the road a number of times.

“He caused oncoming vehicles to swerve to avoid being hit and as he avoided the stinger device he nearly collied with a crash barrier on a bridge over the M1.

“At the end he jumped out of the vehicle which continued down the road before coming to a stop.”

Miss Joyce said Thorpe ran but was caught by a police dog and arrested.

She said in his interview he told officers he had been asked to collect the vehicle which he was told was being leased.

But he later pleaded guilty to theft, dangerous driving and driving without insurance.

As well as the jail term Thorpe, whose previous convictions include conspiracy to steal vehicles, was disqualified from driving for two years.

Laura Pitman, defending, said her client’s current employer, who is aware of his criminal history, was in court and had written a letter to the judge asking for him not to be jailed.

She said: “He is someone that if fit, well, employed and not claiming state benefits.

“He is someone showing real promise and is committed to the job he has been given.”

By Martin Naylor