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Stolen tractor driver was ‘coerced’, King’s Lynn magistrates told

Man allegedly stole and drove tractor in Swaffham
Man allegedly stole and drove tractor in Swaffham

A man who was caught driving a stolen tractor in Swaffham must wait to hear his fate after magistrates ruled his offences were too serious for them to deal with.

Darrell Cousins, 44, admitted handling the vehicle, which is worth more than £35,000, during a court hearing last month.

But, after admitting a string of other offences when he appeared before Lynn magistrates today, Cousins was committed to appear before Norwich Crown Court for sentencing on a date yet to be fixed.

He was also given an immediate 14 day prison term for breaching post-sentence supervision requirements.

The court heard that Cousins, whose address was given as HMP Norwich on court papers, had been driving a Claas tractor which was stopped by police entering the Splashes caravan site in Swaffham on the evening of January 19.

The vehicle had been stolen from a farm in Cockley Clay only hours earlier.

Fergus Harold, prosecuting, said Cousins denied being involved in the theft of the tractor, but told police he had been coerced into driving it.

The incident happened just 13 days after Cousins had been arrested for handling a Mitsubishi L200 vehicle which was stolen from an address in Rougham.

He pleaded guilty to that charge, and a count of driving without insurance, at Friday’s hearing.

He also pleaded guilty to charges of driving while unfit through drugs and a further count of driving without insurance following an incident in Lynn on December 13 last year.

On those charges, he was fined £100, plus £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge, and banned from driving for 18 months.

Mr Harold said police had been alerted by staff at the Southgates Medical Practice who reported seeing a man who they described as being “barely able to walk” getting into a car.

After he was stopped and arrested, Cousins was eventually taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where a cocktail of drugs was found in his system.

Doctors said the level of his impairment was so high that they had to treat him as though he was unconscious.

Ruth Johnson, mitigating, said most of the substances found in her client’s system were prescription medications for mental health issues.

The court was also told that Cousins was seeking assistance from staff within Norwich Prison and is on a waiting list to see a consultant.

Miss Johnson said Cousins had driven the tractor to help him settle a debt with a group of unnamed individuals.

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