A COURT wished a would-be builder good luck with his bid to find permanent work as it fined him for the part he had played in the theft of scrap metal from a North Yorkshire auction mart.
Harrogate magistrates heard on Tuesday how Thomas Lister Skelton had been one of three men concerned in the stealing of a table, two chairs and other scrap from Pateley Bridge mart in Bridgehousegate on March 27.
Prosecutor Joseph Wynn said a van, hired by Skelton and driven by him, had pulled on to the mart’s car park and scrap had been put into the back of it before it was driven away.
Mr Wynn said the estimated value of the scrap was somewhere between £50 and £100 though when Skelton took it to a scrap yard in Otley he was paid £23.65 for it.
The court heard it was the Crown’s contention that the offence had been ‘‘a group effort’’ with the hiring of a van seen as an indication that a level of planning had gone into it.
When Skelton, of St Winifred’s Road, Harrogate, pleaded guilty to theft committed jointly with others, his solicitor Clive Farndon said the defendant took exception to any suggestion that the enterprise had been a sophisticated and planned one.
He had arranged with two friends to hire a van so one of the friends could move from one address in Pateley Bridge to another address in the town. Skelton had been the only one of the trio with a full and current driving licence.
Mr Farndon said the trio had taken a break from removal work and driven to the auction mart. Skelton had gone to a nearly shop to buy refreshments and returned to find his friends loading scrap into the van.
All the metal had been covered in rust and mould, evidence that it had been left out in the elements for a considerable time.
Mr Farndon said Skelton had not been the prime mover in the venture but there was no information available on what had happened to the other two men.
Skelton was currently receiving Jobseekers’ Allowance but was also working without pay for a local building company. He was effectively on trial with the company having told him that if he was thought satisfactory he would be offered full-time employment.
Imposing a fine of £65 with £85 costs, a £15 victim surcharge and £50 compensation, court chairman Eric Fell told Skelton: ‘‘We hope you get this job and that should put you on a steady footing.’’