East Lancs 'one-man crimewave' jailed and banned from town for ten years

David Driver

David Driver

First published in News
Last updated
by , Court reporter

A 'ONE-man crimewave' has been jailed and banned from entering a town for 10 years.

David Driver, 37, brought misery to Barnoldswick in a £31,000 plot along with two 'greedy' handlers who went into business selling stolen goods.

Burnley Crown Court was told how Driver raided 10 commercial properties and one house attached to a business at night.

Jailing him for six years, Judge Beverley Lunt told Driver: "You caused untold distress and worry to an entire town."

He travelled from his Rossendale home by taxi and camped out in an outbuilding behind the town centre properties he was targeting. He would then take the stash back to the outbuilding before heading back home the following morning.

He stole property worth at least £9,000 and blamed 'lack of policing in the town and lack of security' for the break-ins, claiming it was easy for him.

Accomplice Ashleigh Fell sold the loot within days, duping innocent buyers into purchasing stolen beauty products such as cosmetics and hair straighteners on eBay, using her own account.

She even boasted she had sold face cream on the website for £80. Fell also had a stand at car boot sales in Clitheroe and sent multiple texts to people, advertising shoes for sale, not long after a shoe shop was attacked.

Her partner Ryan Raby was asked by Driver in a text message how he should break into a jewellers. Raby replied: "Sledge hammer and chisel and then crowbar, to be honest, mate." Raby also went on to message: "Just remember that sweat also has DNA, mate."

The hearing was told when police raided the home Fell and Raby shared, they found stolen property worth about £4,000. Both had jobs at the time.

Driver, of Farholme Lane, Stacksteads, had admitted conspiracy to burgle, between March and the end of October, last year. The defendant, who has been on remand for seven months, was also given a 10-year anti-social behaviour order.

Fell, 28, who is now heavily pregnant and Raby, 31, both of Pennine Road, Bacup, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen goods, committed between last August and October. They were both locked up for 18 months.

The court had been told how Driver had deliberately targeted businesses in Barnoldswick in planned burglaries, which 'affected the whole town'. He sometimes took cash, including even charity boxes and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Driver was caught because a shopkeeper saw him, recognised him and suspected him and called the police while the defendant was again prowling around Barnoldswick. He was arrested and from that moment, all the burglaries stopped.

The court heard Fell and Raby claimed they had been under pressure from Driver and that he had almost forced them to commit the offence.

Judge Lunt said one victim had been so upset by what happened, he had handed his business over to his son. Another had spent thousands of pounds on increased security measures and still didn't feel safe. A third man couldn't carry on and sold his business.

She added: "The whole town has now invested in a lot of security measures."

Judge Lunt told Fell, who sobbed in the dock, and Raby they had facilitated Driver's repeated crimes, by taking the property. They knew what he was doing and were willing participants. The pair had been involved in 'almost commercial handling'.

She said: "You were both conducting this as a business, to make money on the side. Both of you, at this time, were working. You were not overwhelmed by debt. You were not driven to do what you did. This, apparently, was greed. You apparently both thought this was an easy way to make money."

PC April Butcher, who led the investigation alongside PC Vicky Jones, said: “We think justice has been done for the people of Barnoldswick. He had a massive impact on the town, causing a lot of distress to business owners and residents.

“He was a one-man crimewave. As soon as he was arrested, the burglaries stopped, so we knew we’d got our man.”

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