Salesman duped by car thief

Alpha Motors, Warrington Road, Goose Green
Alpha Motors, Warrington Road, Goose Green

A CHEEKY thief drove off in a £35,000 BMW 4x4 after a test drive from a Wigan vehicle showroom, a court heard.

The salesman, Lee Derbyshire, became suspicious on two occasions during the test drive and did not fall for Dane Fitzwater’s ploys to get him out of the car.

But when they got back to the garage, Alpha Motors in Warrington Road, Mr Derbyshire saw Fitzwater getting out and so got out himself but Fitzwater then jumped back in and sped off.

The salesman was in front of the X5 BMW and was pushed backwards by it as Fitzwater set off but was uninjured, said Harry Pepper, prosecuting.

Fitzwater was caught filling up at a garage at the junction of the East Lancashire Road and the M6 shortly afterwards and arrested. When interviewed he claimed that he was taking it for a test drive and had permission to do so.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that he was a previous similar conviction and was also jailed in 2005 for a robbery conspiracy for which he was jailed for six years.

Fitzwater, of Sandy Lane, Hindley, pleaded guilty to theft and dangerous driving. He was sentenced to a total of 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and placed under supervision for 12 months with attendance on a thinking skills course. He was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, told the court that the incident happened on August 6 and Mr Derbyshire had been very shaken by it and worried that he would lose his job.

Jon Oultram, defending, said that Fitzwater has a long suffering girlfriend who is prepared to give him a final chance and his uncle, who runs his own business, has offered him a job. He has an awful lot to gain if he keeps himself on the straight and narrow,” he added.