Bury St Edmunds iPhone thieves’ scheme was a ‘Del Boy and Rodney situation’

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Two friends who tried to sell stolen iPhones and iPads were likened in court to Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy and Rodney.

The ill thought out scheme foundered because Lee Gaught and Hilaire Marshall failed to spot the gadgets were being returned to Apple as faulty, then started messaging each other about their crimes on one of the stolen phones, Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday.

Marshall, 22, of Ion Road, Bury, pleaded guilty to theft of an iPad and six iPhones from his employers UPS. Gaught, 25, of Maltings Way, Bury, pleaded guilty to dishonestly handling stolen goods, namely some of the iPhones and the iPad.

Colette Harper, prosecuting, said a security supervisor at UPS was investigating a number of packages bound for Apple that had been signed for by drivers then gone missing.

He discovered they had been handled by Marshall, whose job was to sort packages, and when he spoke to the defendant he admitted taking them.

He had kept one iPhone and when the messages were checked, they found a conversation with Gaught saying the stolen phones were faulty.

Apple packaging was found at their homes.

David Stewart, representing Marshall, said he wanted to use the money to pay off debts.

Lyndon Davies, representing Gaught, said he paid £380 for two phones and the iPad. He said Gaught had had to refund people and added: “He actually lost money from his criminal involvement.”

Carl Stoodley, of the Probation service, said Gaught was previously of good character. He added: “It was a bit of a Del Boy and Rodney situation. They didn’t know what they were doing.”

Maria Bluett, of the Probation service, said Marshall had stolen a phone because his was broken and he could not afford to replace it. As this had not been investigated, he took more.

She added: “Had he thought it through he would have realised the items were faulty because the address was of the manufacturer. It wasn’t properly thought through.”

Each was given a 12 month community order with supervision and ordered to pay £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs. In addition Gaught has to do 60 hours unpaid work while Marshall was ordered to do 100 hours and take part in a thinking skills course.