A burglar who tried to steal tools from a barn has been jailed after a quick witted farmer jumped off his tractor and caught him red handed.
Trevor Gray abandoned his car at the farm at Crediton and fled on foot when farmer’s son Samuel Ayre spotted him and another intruder loading a hedge trimmer at other kit into the boot.
Gray and fellow burglar John Milligan legged it down a country lane but were found by police in a nearby pub. They were linked to the abandoned car by DNA.
Gray was found guilty of burglary by a jury at Exeter Crown Court in January but jumped bail and went on the run for seven months before he could be sentenced.
He was caught after drinking two litres of vodka and stealing a road sweeper lorry from a council depot in Landrake, Cornwall, on August 18.
The stolen vehicle was stopped by police on the A 38 at Deep Lane, Plymouth, when a stinger device was used to deflate four of its six tyres after a ten mile,low speed chase.
Gray, aged 30, formerly of Lock Close, Sidmouth, but recently of no fixed abode, denied the burglary at the farm but was found guilty at the trial in January. He admitted jumping bail.
He was not in the dock because he refused to leave his cell at Exeter Prison, where he is serving a 25 week sentence imposed by Truro Magistrates for the road sweeper offences.
He was jailed for a total of a year and eight months by Recorder Ms Jane Rowley, who appeared by video link from the Isle of Wight Crown Court.
Milligan, aged 34, from Exeter, who admitted the burglary, was jailed for 12 months after the trial in January, at which Gray’s sister Emma was acquitted and discharged.
The recorder told Gray:"This offence was so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate. The aggravating features are your previous convictions for dishonesty and your failure to attend court."
The jury at the earlier trial heard how Gray, his sister and Milligan drove to Shute Farm on April 9, 2017, and the two men went into an outbuilding to steal equipment including a hedge-trimmer, chainsaw, leaf blower and strimmer.
Farmer’s son Samuel Ayre was ploughing a field nearby and saw the men loading property into the boot of the car. He jumped from his tractor to investigate and they fled, leaving Emma in the car.
She also walked away and later denied acting as lookout or knowing anything about the burglary. She was cleared after telling the jury she was Milligan’s girlfriend and had no idea what was going on.
Gray has 19 previous convictions, but all for taking vehicles or driving offences, and none for burglary.
Mr William Parkhill, defending, asked the judge to pass a sentence in line with that imposed on Milligan and not to add more than a short period for the breach of bail.