Photograph thief spared jail

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A MAN who admitted stealing numerous items from a car including an envelope full of precious family photographs has been spared prison.

Matthew Collins, from Up Holland, was given a suspended prison sentence at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to stealing the envelope, a briefcase and a lanyard from a black Vauxhall Zafira as it was parked on a drive.

The court heard that the incident occurred at an address in Longshaw Common in Billinge overnight between September 10 and 11, 2013.

The theft was first noticed by the car owner when she went outside in the morning and discovered the contents of the vehicle had been strewn around the interior.

It was revealed that Collins, of Danbers, did not keep hold of the items he had stolen.

The envelope full of sentimental photographs was later located underneath a nearby bush and the briefcase recovered from a neighbour’s bin.

Katie Beattie, prosecuting, told the court that 22-year-old Collins was identified as the thief by police officers after fingerprints found on the photographs matched his in the database.

Collins replied that he had no comment to make when questioned by police, but he pleaded guilty to the theft at the earliest opportunity once in court.

Mrs Beattie said: “The victim does not know the defendant and it has upset her that someone has been in her vehicle and stolen these items, especially the envelope which was taken from the glovebox.”

Mike Flynn, defending, told the court that Collins had a history of offending.

But a report prepared by the probation service showed that he was working hard to try to keep himself out of trouble.

Mr Flynn said: “The report seems to suggest a change in the level of maturity in this young man.

“He has complied well with the probation service and is also working with the local police.

“There has finally been a decrease in the rate of offending and he has been considered suitable for dealing with through unpaid work. The probation service feels this would be of benefit to him and would give him skills as he is currently out of work.”

Collins was sentenced to six weeks in prison, although the term was suspended for 12 months, and he was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay court costs totalling £100 and a victims’ surcharge of £80.