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Caravan thief turned life around while on remand in prison

Inverness Sheriff Court.
Inverness Sheriff Court.

A Moray man who stole a six-berth caravan and a quad bike with a total value of £27,000 turned his life around while spending six months in prison on remand.

Defence solicitor Gerry Sweeney said his client, John McPhee, of Innes Court, Lhanbryde, had initially wanted to go to prison for his crimes.

But with his relationship being rekindled, the birth of his sixth child, and the support of family and prison services, McPhee had overcome his alcohol and drug difficulties as well as his depression, the lawyer said.

Mr Sweeney told Sheriff Sara Matheson: “He now wants to restart his industrial fencing business which was very successful. The period in custody has saved him.

‘He is now clean’

“He was in a dark and difficult place when these offences were committed, he was depressive and taking illicit drugs and alcohol.

“The catalyst was the break-up of his relationship. But he is now clean.”

McPhee had previously admitted theft and theft by opening a lockfast place on February 15, 2020, and May 22, 2020.

Sentence was deferred for a background report.

But Sheriff Matheson was not prepared to deal with 39-year-old McPhee immediately because there had been a significant change in his attitude.

Bike was stolen from storage compound in Lossiemouth

She said she wanted a restriction of liberty assessment and a fresh social work background report.

McPhee, who had his bail continued, will reappear on June 20.

The court had earlier heard that the 39-year-old used an angle grinder to cut a lock off the towbar of the caravan.

It had been stored in a compound in Grantown on Spey.

Police stopped McPhee’s Ford Transit van which was towing the caravan on the A9 near Kincraig and arrested him.

The court heard how a GPS tracker on the £7,000 quad bike helped police arrest McPhee. Although the quad bike was taken to an industrial estate in Kirkcaldy, police were unable to recover it.

The bike had been stolen from a storage compound in Lossiemouth which was broken into by McPhee.

Officers matched CCTV to the route taken by the quad bike and McPhee’s van was seen on exactly the same route.

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