A man named the “Vice President of trouble” by a judge stole a £25,000 Mercedes from Heathrow Airport before it was later found “in pieces” at a garage more than 200 miles away.
Ray Aldridge, 60, paid a car hire firm at the West London airport £200 to rent the car for a week, but failed to return the vehicle on the agreed date.
Instead, the Mercedes was found at a garage in Bolton in the process of being dismantled.
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He appeared at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday (August 6) to be sentenced for theft of a motor vehicle and failing to surrender to court.
The court heard that Aldridge attended the Europcar desk at Heathrow Airport at around 1.30am on March 23, 2018, with another male.
He was seen to continually look over his shoulder in the direction of the male, before handing over his name, mobile phone number and debit card details to staff in order to hire the £25,564 Mercedes.
A £200 fee was paid for the car to be hired from March 23 to March 29. However, the vehicle was not returned on the latter date.
Europcar initially tried to contact Aldridge using the details he provided to hire the car, but were unable to reach him.
They contacted police, who in turn were able to track the vehicle to a garage in Bolton more than 200 miles away.
Officers attended the address to find the Mercedes “in pieces” and in the process of being “dismantled”.
Using the details provided to the car hire firm, detectives were able to track Aldridge and he was subsequently arrested.
However, he failed to appear at court for trial and was convicted by a jury in his absence.
The court heard that Aldridge has 18 previous convictions for 37 offences stretching back to 1979.
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Her Honour Judge Karen Holt did not sentence him to an immediate custodial sentence, though, given his struggles with osteoporosis.
She said: “To use an American term, you are the Vice President of getting into trouble with the police. You used you own details and debit card to hire the car and were always going to be the person that was going to come to the attention of the police, but there were clearly more people involved.
“The custody threshold has been passed, but I am going to give you a chance and suspend the sentence in this case.”
Aldridge, of Tottenham, North London, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment suspended for two years.
He received an additional seven days in jail for failing to surrender to court, which is to be served consecutively.