Peterborough ‘One man crime wave’ back behind bars after admitting string of offences

A Peterborough man described as a one man crime wave is back behind bars after admitting a string of offences - less than a month after being released from prison.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 7:00 am
Paul Priestley

Career crook Paul Priestley appeared at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court yesterday where he pleaded guilty to six counts of vehicle interference and indicated a guilty plea to one count of breaching a criminal behaviour order after being caught trying to break into a car in Parnwell.

He was remanded in custody ahead of a sentencing hearing at Peterborough Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.

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Paul Priestley

Priestley has spent much of the past decade in and out of prison, and even once told magistrates ‘he would be back’ in court after they jailed him for 16 weeks for thefts. He was back in the dock just for months later.

Priestley had been in prison since March last year after his last spree, after admitting more than 150 offences - mainly made up of breaking into cars. He had been given a 30 month jail sentence, and most crooks serve half of their sentence in prison, with the other half on licence in the community.

He had started that crime wave just a day after being released from his previous prison spell. He was named as one of Cambridgeshire’s most prolific criminals by police after raiding vehicles across Hampton and the Ortons.

The Peterborough Telegraph joined officers on a freezing midnight patrol in Hampton as they hunted for Priestley - and worked to keep residents’ cars safe.

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.

During sentencing, Priestley - who was then homeless - told Judge Gareth Hawksworth he wanted to turn his life around, and said he was ‘too old’ to steal from cars. He told the court he had been stealing to provide himself food and shelter, but he said he had a job and accommodation sorted for his release from prison

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

He gave him a 30 month sentence 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.”

Ten years ago Priestley - then aged 30- was given a ‘last chance’ to sort his life out after admitting carrying out 70 vehicle break-ins in just four months.

He had already been committing crimes for 14 years, when he was caught again.

Priestley was already under the police’s Priority Prolific Offenders (PPO) unit, aimed at tackling the consistent crooks in the city.

Officers took the unprecedented step of asking for the 30-year-old amphetamine addict to be kept out of prison so he could be monitored in the community.

Yet, less than six months later Priestley was back in the dock after breaking into three cars when he got drunk celebrating his birthday

He was jailed again in July 2017, and a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) put in place, banning him from touching unattended cars without the owners permission.

In March 2017 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.