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Trio admit stealing dumper truck

PUBLISHED: 15:21 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:08 12 August 2010

THREE men have admitted in court that they stole a dumper truck. However, the driver of the vehicle remains on the loose. Stephen Webb, 23, of  Teal Avenue, St. Mary Cray, Freddy Smith, 27, of Selbourne Square, Godstone and a 17-year-old youth all admitt

THREE men have admitted in court that they stole a dumper truck. However, the driver of the vehicle remains on the loose.

Stephen Webb, 23, of Teal Avenue, St. Mary Cray, Freddy Smith, 27, of Selbourne Square, Godstone and a 17-year-old youth all admitted stealing the vehicle from Pendle Farm, Bletchingley on September 18 last year.

A fourth man, spotted behind the wheel of the truck, fled cops and crashed into a stationary police car, Guildford Crown Court heard.

He then made a quick getaway from the crash scene at Reigate Hill, Reigate.

But a man later arrested in the town centre and accused of being the runaway was cleared of theft and dangerous driving by a jury on March 10, after he told the court that police had got the wrong person.

William Smith, 29, of Kings Cross Lane, Nutfield, denied committing both offences and was acquitted on a majority verdict at Guildford Crown Court.

But Webb, Smith and the youth, who were arrested at the scene, pleaded guilty to stealing the truck and have been remanded on bail.

The two adults will be sentenced in the Crown Court on April 3.

The teenager has been remitted to the youth court to be dealt with.

The court was told that the £15,000 dumper truck and a £6,000 Leyland DAF lorry had been stolen from the farm 24 hours earlier.

Farm owner Mary Bradley reported it to police and was later informed that it had been found near Kings Cross Lane, Nutfield. But a short time later Mrs Bradley said she received another call saying that the dumper had been stolen again.

Alisdair Smith, prosecuting, said the dumper was next seen being towed down Reigate Hill on a trailer by a 4x4 accompanied by a Vauxhall Vectra.

"One of the wheels of the trailer collided with some steps leading up to a house," he said.

The occupant of the house, plumber Anthony Gibbons, said: "The trailer's wheels had no tyres on and sparks were flying out as it trundled along the road."

The prosecuting counsel said police were called and an officer recognised at least two of the men.

He said: "A man drove off at speed in the Vauxhall Vectra intent on escaping. But the Vauxhall collided with a stationary police vehicle after it had sped off."

He said the suspect decamped and ran off towards Reigate town centre.

The prosecuting counsel said William Smith was later arrested in a transit van where he insisted he had been the entire time.

The defendant told the court that it had been a case of mistaken identity on the part of police officers.

The jury was told that the stolen lorry had still not been traced.

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