Homeless man who crashed stolen truck caught with knife in Leeds

A homeless man who crashed a  stolen £40,000 building site truck after a chase was caught with a knife a year later at a community shelter  in Leeds, a court heard.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th April 2020, 5:38 pm

A member of the public called police to say a man had been spotted with a knife at St Anne's Community Shelter in Leeds on January 9, Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor, Richard Davies said two police officers arrived at the shelter and searched Simon Birks, who was found to be carrying a small kitchen knife.

Mr Davies said: "He was upset and shouting whilst in the rear of the police vehicle. He said someone had tried to rob him a couple of days ago and he had stabbed them. He said he would continue to carry a knife."

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Leeds Crown Court

Mr Davies said on January 31 2019, a member of the public alerted police after becoming suspicious after spotting someone struggling to control a telehandler truck on the forecourt of a petrol station.

The court heard Birks was at the wheel of the £40,500 machine used on building sites, which had been stolen from a hire company earlier that morning.

When police arrived Birks drove off in the truck and there was a short pursuit.

Birks jumped out of the slowly moving truck, which crashed into and badly damaged two parked cars during the incident in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

Birks was arrested and interviewed and released under investigation.

He later failed to answer a summons to attend court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Birks, 40, of no fixed abode, admitted aggravated vehicle taking and possession of a bladed article.

The court heard Birks has 31 previous convictions for 66 offences including theft, burglary, possessing an offensive weapon and affray.

Adrian Morton, mitigating, said Birks was homeless and had no income and had agreed to be taken to Uttoxeter to move the tele handler truck for a small amount of money.

Mr Morton said Birks was not involved in the theft of the truck.

Mr Morton said: "There was no truth in what he was saying about possession of the knife."

Mr Morton said Birks was brought up in the care system, had used drugs from the ages of nine or ten..

He said Birks had suffered life-changing injuries in a road traffic accident as a young man and suffers from epilepsy.

Judge Neil Clark jailed Birks for 16 months and banned him from driving for 26 months at the end of the sentencing hearing, which was conducted via Skype and videolink.