Peterborough's 'one man crime wave' jailed after attempting to break into cars following vow to leave life of crime behind

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One of Peterborough's most prolific crooks will spend months behind bars after being caught trying to steal from cars just weeks after release from prison.

Paul Priestley was labelled as a 'menace' to car owners as he appeared at Peterborough Crown Court today.

Paul Priestley

Paul Priestley

He had been given a 30 month prison sentence last March after admitting breaking into more than 150 cars in the south of the city. As he was sentenced in 2018, he vowed to put his life of crime behind him when he was released from jail. He has 141 offences on his criminal record - with many convictions including dozens of offences taken into consideration.

But despite his promise to go clean, after serving half of the sentence in jail he was released - and just three months later he was caught trying to steal from cars in Parnwell.

Today (Friday) he appeared at Peterborough Crown Court, where he was jailed for 14 months by Judge Sean Enright.

Judge Enright said: "You have a staggering number of convictions. Stealing from cars is what you do.

"You have become a menace to people who have cars. You have exhausted all lines of mitigation."

Timothy Sleigh-Johnson, prosecuting, said Priestley was spotted on CCTV at about 4.30am on September 8, where he tried the door handles of six parked cars.

A Criminal Behavior Order (CBO) was in place banning him from touching unattended cars.

The CCTV footage was shown to police, and officers recognised Priestley.

The court heard he has admitted hundreds of thefts in the past, and has spent much of the last decade in and out of prison.

MORE: One man crime wave back behind bars - Paul Priestley's extensive criminal past

During the sentencing in 2018, Priestley (41) - 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.

He has previously been labelled a 'one man crime wave.'

Diane Mundill, defending, said Priestley had been released from prison in June, and had stayed out of trouble since his release.

However, he had recently made contact with his grandmother, and was due to visit her - but she died on the day he was due to visit.

His sister was also due to visit, but she called at the last minute to cancel.

Miss Mundill said: "He became upset. He walks to keep his mind busy, and he went walking that night. He fell into an old habit, and has regretted it ever since."

Miss Mundill added Priestley had been making progress since his last conviction. She said: "He showed genuine remorse.

"For many people four months is not a significant period of time but for Mr Priestley it is for him to stay out if trouble."

PC Danny Cummings said: “Priestley has a considerable number of previous convictions for theft from motor vehicles. His last conviction saw more than 170 offences being taken into consideration when sentencing was imposed.

“Despite having a criminal behaviour order, just three months after being released from prison Priestley was at it again.”

In interview Priestley, of Scalford Drive, Peterborough, fully admitted breaching his CBO and interfering with vehicles, apologising for his actions and becoming tearful in front of officers.

Priestley pleaded guilty to six counts of interference with a motor vehicle and one count of breaching a CBO.

The CBO will run until March 2023.