'Hopeless' drug addict jailed weeks after same judge gave him chance
PUBLISHED: 13:07 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 July 2019
A 'hopeless' drug addict has been jailed by the judge who offered him a second chance just weeks before he crashed a stolen car.
Anthony Vittles flipped a stolen Subaru he claimed to have been transporting for a traveller friend along a Suffolk road on April 25.
The 45-year-old ended up in hospital for five days with a punctured lung and a gashed head that required 14 stitches.
Just weeks before taking the car and driving it without a licence or insurance, Vittles was offered a reprieve when Judge David Pugh suspended a 14-month jail term for burglary and theft on February 22.
On Wednesday, Vittles appeared on remand at Ipswich Crown Court, via video from Norwich prison, to admit the latest of more than 120 offences on his record, and asked the judge to take into account another 10 crimes.
Judge Pugh told him: "You were in breach of a suspended sentence I passed, notwithstanding the fact you have 38 convictions for more than 120 offences, by taking into account that you were using drugs as a coping mechanism, but that you told me you were addressing your drug addiction and intended to move away from the area.
"I passed a sentence which I considered would give you an opportunity to avoid going back to prison. Sadly, the trust I placed in you was not acted upon."
Keys to the stolen Subaru were reportedly taken from the glove compartment of another car parked in the same driveway of a family home in Lakenheath at some point after 6pm on April 25.
At 6am the next morning, Vittles drove at such speed along Lords Walk, in Eriswell, that he lost control and flipped the car.
Prosecutor Stephen Spence said the loss of the car caused its owner significant inconvenience.
Philip Farr, mitigating, said Vittles had been paid £50 by a traveller acquaintance to drive the car from one location to another.
He said Vittles had attended all probation and rehabilitation appointments imposed as part of his suspended sentence, but had failed to remain abstinent.
"He is clearly something of a hopeless drug addict," he added, but pointed out that Vittles had stayed out of trouble while clean on two previous occasions, and had owned up to 10 other crimes, which may otherwise have gone unsolved, to wipe the slate clean.
Vittles, of Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, was jailed for 18 months, including the activated suspended sentence, and banned from driving for 21 months.
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-Following these charges, Anthony Vittles engaged with the Operation Converter team and went on to admit a further 10 offences that took place between March 13, 2018 and April 26, 2019.
These included various incidents of thefts from vehicles in the Red Lodge and Lakenheath areas, stealing a variety of items including sunglasses, cash, headphones and a mobile phone.
Another offence was burglary of a building in Lakenheath, where power tools were stolen, and two incidents of attempted theft from vehicles in Red Lodge.
DC Barry Simpson, from the Op Converter team, said: "Vittles has taken responsibility for his offending, behaviour and lifestyle and is keen to make amends.
"He has shown remorse and a clear understanding that his actions were wrong - with class A drugs appearing to be at the root of his offending."
"I'd take this opportunity to remind motorists that valuables left on display in vehicles can also attract attention from thieves.
"Items such as sat navs or even sat nav mounts should be removed from inside vehicles."
-Motorists are advised to take the following security measures:
Leave vehicles locked and secure at all times - even if left unattended for only a minute
Remove all valuables and personal belongings from the vehicle entirely
Audio equipment, sat navs, mobile phones, laptops and handbags are particularly sought after - remove evidence of these from your vehicle when out and about, or even overnight
Property mark your valuables so, if they are stolen, they can be more easily traced if recovered
-Operation Converter is an initiative aimed at encouraging offenders to admit their crimes.
Police are able to give victims some peace of mind that an offender has been caught for the burglary of their home or the theft of their property, and the individual has the opportunity to clear their slate to have a fresh start when they are released from prison, without the possibility they will later be traced for a further offence.
Offenders have to give sufficient detail for officers to be sure they have committed the crime, and these offences are then 'taken into consideration' at sentencing.