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Leeds Live
Matthew Cooper, PA & Sebastian McCormick

Leeds man who stole 200,000 Creme Eggs 'surrendered to police with his hands up'

A Leeds man who stole 200,000 Cadbury's Creme Eggs using a stolen lorry cab has pleaded in court.

From Tingley, Leeds, Joby Pool is expected to be jailed for around two years next month, after pleading guilty to theft and criminal damage. His lorry on false plates was dubbed “the Easter bunny” by West Mercia Police.

The 32-year-old man first used a metal grinder so he could break into an industrial unit in Telford, Shropshire, on Saturday (February 11). He then drove off with chocolate goods worth £31,000.

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Magistrates at Kidderminster, Worcestershire, were told Pool had previous convictions for a similar offence, having been dealt with at Derby Crown Court in 2019 for theft, handling stolen goods and driving while disqualified.

Opening the facts of the case on Tuesday, prosecutor Owen Beale told magistrates: "I don’t know if you have seen the news recently – there was a load that was stolen and on the trailer was Cadbury’s products – a large number of Creme Eggs.

"The police were told there had been a break-in at SW Logistics. A grinder had been used to get through the gate."

Pool used a tractor unit which had been stolen in the Yorkshire area in October to tow away the trailer, which was then driven away, eventually reaching the northbound M42. Mr Beale said of Pool: "He gave up at junction 11 and walked towards the police with his hands up. He was arrested and the load was recovered.

"This clearly wasn’t spur-of-the-moment offending, if I can put it like that, because he had taken with him a tractor unit and he had to know that the load was there in the first place.

"It’s clearly a leading role and it’s clearly significant planning.”

Suggesting a sentence of two years may be the starting point for a judge when Pool is sentenced, Mr Beale told the two magistrates hearing the case: "It’s going to be well outside your powers of sentence.

"This is clearly an organised criminal matter. You don’t just happen to learn about a trailer with that kind of value being available."

Pool entered a guilty plea for the theft of a lorry trailer belonging to SW Logistics, theft of its contents belonging to Magna Specialist Confectioners, and criminal damage to a chain lock. His solicitor John McMillan told the hearing that Pool, a self-employed ground worker, understood a substantial sentence was likely.

Offering mitigation for his client via a video-link while making an unsuccessful application for bail, Mr McMillan said: "He has some sheep and some horses in a paddock in the Tingley area.

"He is anxious to be able to get back to sort out the animals and make sure they are looked after."

McMillan said of the offence itself: "He stopped the vehicle when he realised he was being followed.

"He realised that the game was up – he realised the police were behind him and pulled in when it was safe to do so."

Reiterating that Pool had raised his hands, Mr McMillan added: “He wasn’t offering any resistance and he was then arrested.

"Everything (stolen) had been recovered and that will no doubt assist the owners of the various items that have been taken.

"There has been no interference with the food products that were taken – they will be in a condition that they can go back on the shelves."

Pool, who waved at a woman who was sitting in the public gallery, will be sentenced at Shrewsbury Crown Court on March 14. In a series of tweets on Monday, the West Mercia force said of the offence: "The eggs-travagent theft took place on Saturday 11 February with the chocolate collection box thought to be worth around £40,000. Along with the Creme Eggs a number of other chocolate varieties were also stolen.

"Shortly after the theft a vehicle, presumably purporting to be the Easter bunny, was stopped northbound on the M42 and a man was arrested on suspicion of theft."

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Market Drayton station replied to news the haul had been recovered, telling police "eggcellent work by all involved".

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