A banned driver who trundled down the M55 for 12 miles in a stolen JCB after stealing the £30,000 digger from a farm has been jailed.
Convicted thief Lewis Adams, 23, stole the mechanical digger from a farm near after his own car broke down on the M55 in the early hours of the morning.
He abandoned his Vauxhall Astra - bearing false number plates - on the hard shoulder, climbed up an embankment and made his way across agricultural fields towards Black Leach House Farm in Catforth, where he got into a JCB and drove it off the farmland straight onto the motorway.
Adams, who was on bail at the time, then drove the 12 miles back to his home in Blackpool. A tracker device in the JCB enabled police to trace the vehicle to Adams’ address on Lynn Grove, North Shore.
He was arrested at 3.20am when police found the JCB parked in the street, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecuting barrister Nadim Bashir said: “At about 2am he either broke down or ran out of petrol.
“He ran alongside an embankment and into a farm, where the owner had left the keys (to the JCB) in the footwell.
“He then drives it back to his home in Blackpool.”
Adams denied stealing the digger but owned up after police found his DNA on a torch inside the JCB.
Mr Bashir said Adams, formerly of Hull, East Yorkshire, stole the vehicle a day after being bailed by Durham magistrates following a police chase in Darlington in which he sped away from officers, drove on the wrong side of the road and jumped red lights, before abandoning his Audi and running off.
Adams appeared before judge Robert Bartfield to be sentence for the JCB theft, dangerous driving and conspiracy to burgle several agricultural properties in North Yorkshire with two other men and a woman over a two-week period in July last year.
Mr Bashir said Adams - who has previous convictions for burglary, violence, possessing an offensive weapon, criminal damage and handling stolen goods - was initially arrested in August 2014 on suspicion of stealing over £20,000 of quad bikes and agricultural equipment from five farms in North Yorkshire.
He was arrested again in November this year for the dangerous-driving offence, but just a few days later stole car number plates from his neighbours before setting off for Preston where he stole the JCB.
Judge Mr Bartfield said he accepted Adams’ main reason for stealing the JCB was to get home to Blackpool, but added that his previous convictions and failure to obey court orders meant jail was the only option.
Adams was jailed for four years and two months for theft, conspiracy to burgle and dangerous driving.
Charmaine Bucknill, 24, of Dinmore Avenue, Grange Park, was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence and 150 hours’ unpaid work for conspiracy to burgle the rural properties in North Yorkshire.