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King's Lynn man stole caravan to pay drug debt, court told

A man from Lynn was coerced into helping steal a caravan by travellers to whom he owed money for drugs, a court heard yesterday.

However, Darrell John Cousins was given a conditional discharge by magistrates after they heard what good progress he is making with his drink and drug issues under a community order imposed for motoring offences during the theft.

It all took place on August 24 last year and 44-year-old Cousins, of Anmer Terrace, London Road, was given a suspended sentence the following month for dangerous driving, drink-driving and driving while disqualified. That sentence finished on Tuesday.

Court Register (16173215)
Court Register (16173215)

The handling stolen goods charge has only just come to court because he originally denied it and there was a CPS delay.

Prosecuting at Boston Magistrates' Court, Ali Zaki said police signalled for Cousins to pull over as he towed the Bailey Senator Arizona caravan in Lincolnshire shortly before midnight. After some dangerous driving he did eventually stop.

"When asked about the caravan, he thought it was legitimate. He understood the collection was risky but he didn't understand it to be stolen," added Mr Zaki, who said the caravan was returned to its owner.

In mitigation, Phillipa Chatterton said the defendant had a drug debt to travellers who insisted he must repay it that day by carrying out their orders. He was told to collect the caravan from a location he did not know.

"He was told to then phone them and they would collect it. You can understand why he did it - you don't say 'no' to travellers," added Miss Chatterton.

A probation officer told the bench that Cousins had engaged well with the rehabilitation help during his community order and had voluntarily extended it by six months.

Presiding magistrate Mariska Hemens said: "It's very rare in this court we have somebody that has tried to sort themselves out as you have done. It's a long, hard road - we recognise that. We recognise how far you have come and you need to continue."

There was no order for costs but Cousins, who has a long history of theft offences, was told to pay a £20 victim surcharge.

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