A notorious Moray pigeon raider who was caught smuggling prized racing birds up his jumper was locked up yesterday.
During an 18-month crime wave, Dean Wells, 22, of 14 Slorachs Brae, Fochabers, admitted to stealing a total of 31 pigeons from the lofts of two Elgin brothers, worth an estimated £2,750.
He also admitted punching a man and a woman in the face, attempting to sell a stolen phone and breaching conditions of bail.
Wells was initially spared jail, but after failing to make meaningful progress on 220 outstanding hours of unpaid work, Sheriff John Halley revoked two community payback orders and sentenced Wells to six months in custody.
During sentencing at Elgin Sheriff Court, he said: “These pigeons are of significant value and no doubt very considerably important to the owners.
“Sheriff Raeburn gave you the opportunity to deal with matters in a relatively positive manner, but we have reached the end of the road.”
Defence lawyer Brent Lockie said his client acknowledged he had run out of chances.
In an outburst from the dock, Wells apologised to the court and his past victims for his “foolish behaviour”.
The court heard that an exchange of insults with Steven Aspland on June 14, 2013, resulted in him punching Mr Aspland twice in the face, leaving him with a 1cm cut above his right eye and swelling to his eye and nose.
Then, eight days later, when a drinking session with friends in the Kingsmills area turned nasty, the 22-year-old punched Helena Fulton in the face and left her with a cut lip and a bruised jaw.
The court heard that on December 4, 2013, he broke into David Reid’s shed on Hermes Road and stole nine birds worth £550.
Later the same day, a witness saw him in the back garden of Mr Reid’s brother, Robbie Reid, on Pringle Road “holding a pigeon with his jumper bulging out and suspected more pigeons were under there as well.”
The following day, police were called to Cash Generator in Elgin trying to sell a reset Sony Xperia, which he tried to pawn under a false name.
A year, later, on December 14 and 15 last year, Wells returned to the coops belonging to both brothers and stole a further 19 pigeons, worth a total of £2,200.
Fiscal depute Ruraidh McAlister told the court that multiple birds were found in two cupboards in Wells’ bedroom at his girlfriend’s address in Elgin in the days following the 2014 thefts, with their security rings removed — rendering them worthless.