One man crimewave jailed again for Peterborough thefts

Paul Priestley
Paul Priestley
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A prolific thief from Peterborough has been jailed again after admitting more than 150 offences

Paul Priestley has been in and out of jail for much of the last decade, and is back behind bars today after he was locked up for 30 months at Cambridge Crown Court today (Tuesday).

He started his latest wave of offending just one day after being released from his last prison spell.

Homeless Priestley (39) pleaded guilty to two thefts, one attempted theft from a motor vehicle, vehicle interference, failing to comply with the requirements of a post-custodial sentence and breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order at a previous hearing at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

He also asked for 151 other offences to be taken into consideration.

Priestley had been named as one of the county’s most prolific offenders by Cambridgeshire police as he went on his crime spree this winter - mainly in the Hampton and Orton areas of Peterborough.

Almost all of the offences he was sentenced for today took place between September 2 2017 (the day after he was released from his last sentence) and January 2018.

He had been jailed in July last year, and a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) put in place, banning him from touching unattended cars without the owners permission.

Sara Walker, prosecuting, told the court CCTV captured from victims’ homes, saw Priestley trying door handles of cars to find unsecured vehicles.

From one attempted theft he fled empty handed - and left his own wallet behind, providing crucial DNA evidence for police.

A letter from Cambridgeshire police was also handed to the court, thanking Priestley for admitting the 151 other offences, which cleared a number of unsolved crimes from their books, and also provided closure for his victims.

The court was told Priestley was now keen to turn his life around, admitting he was ‘too old’ to be stealing from cars.

He said he had been stealing to provide himself with food and clothes - and had now been offered a home and a job for when he is released from prison.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said Priestley had an ‘appalling record’ for dishonesty after hearing he had more than 80 previous convictions for theft.

The offending started in 1994, and Judge Hawkesworth noted there was an eight year spell where Priestley did not offend, when he had a job working in retail.

But Judge Hawkesworth said it was clear Priestley had made no effort to stay out of trouble - even though there was evidence he could - and said: “All your previous sentences have been very short because of the type of offending you have carried out. They have not been significant enough to deter you or rehabilitate you. The time has come to protect the community and pass a sentence of some length.”

Priestley was given a 30 month sentence for breaching the CBO, six month sentences for each theft and attempted theft, and four months for the vehicle interference charge, all to be served concurrently.

The CBO will now last a further five years.

In March last year Priestley told magistrates ‘I will be back’ when he was jailed for thefts from cars.

He had been given a 16 week sentence, and ordered to pay compensation to two victims - but he told the court he was homeless, and had no money to pay his victims.

Magistrate Paul Waterfield told him ‘you need to do something to break the chain,’ to which Priestley replied ‘it’s always me.’

After telling magistrates he would be back, Priestley was true to his word - and was jailed again in July, just four months later.

His latest string of offences lead police to carry out early morning patrols of Hampton and Orton, and putting out a public appeal, as Priestley continued to evade capture.

He was given a 14 day sentence for failing to comply with a post custodial sentence at the Magistrates’ Court hearing after missing appointments after he was released from jail after serving a sentence for theft from cars.