Car crook caught after jumping off Leeds pub

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A professional car criminal was almost killed after he jumped off the roof of a pub in a bid to escape from police.

A court heard Kenneth Smith leapt off the top of the Eagle Tavern pub, Sheepscar, and went through the roof of a warehouse.

Officers found the prolific offender inside a vehicle inside the premises on September 26 this year.

Smith, 35, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to six offences of theft from a vehicle. He asked the court to take 85 further offences of vehicle crime into consideration.

Leeds Crown Court heard all the offences took place in the Woodhouse, Hyde Park, Little London and Headingley areas of the city over a 12 month period ending in September this year

On August 23 he stole an iPod worth £100 from a Vauxhall Astra on Kelso Road.

Alisha Kaye, prosecuting, said Smith cut himself and left blood at the scene which linked him to the offence.

Smith then went on to target cars on Churchill Gardens, Kingston Terrace, Hyde Park Road and Cross Kelso Road.

In one of the offences he broke into a vehicle belonging to a student paramedic and stole expensive medical equipment and documents.

Smith was caught after police chased him when he broke into a BMW and stole a sat nav at a car park on Mabgate on September 26.

Miss Kaye said Smith ended up on the roof of the Eagle Tavern and tried to jump onto the roof of a neighbouring warehouse.

He fell through the roof and was arrested inside after coming close to receiving fatal injuries.

The court heard Smith, of Carlton Gate, Little London, has 30 previous convictions for 119 offences.

Describing the events surrounding the arrest, Smith’s lawyer, Keith Whitehouse, said: “It was a turning point in his life for many reasons. Primarily, because of the near-fatal leap of faith into the darkness on that evening to escape police.

“It has led to a complete change in his life.”

Mr Whitehouse said the incident prompted Smith to co-operate with police and admit to the many offences he had committed over the previous year in a bid to “wipe the slate clean”.

He added: “He has made a nuisance of himself throughout the period of the schedule of offences and it is something he regrets.

Mr Whitehouse said the offending was linked to Smith’s abuse of class A drugs.

Jailing him for two years, judge James Spencer, QC, said: “You have a bad record. You have been committing crime habitually for many years.”

After Det Sgt Liam Walsh, of Leeds District Crime Team, said: “Smith is a prolific offender who was responsible for a very large number of thefts from vehicles, primarily in the Headingley and Hyde Park area. His desperate attempt to escape from officers backfired when he fell through a roof. He was lucky not to have been more seriously injured.

“Offences of this type can often be hard to detect but a focused investigation by this team linked him to a number of crimes and also recovered property he had sold on to second hand shops.

“His case also shows the work we do under Operation Converter to get prolific offenders to ‘wipe the slate clean’ by admitting other crimes that they have committed which we would never have sufficient evidence to charge them with. This brings some closure to victims to know that the person responsible has admitted the offence and has been dealt with by the justice system.”