Two men have been found guilty of equipping themselves for theft despite claiming there were in possession of metallic tools because they were high on ketamine and had become fascinated with shiny objects.
Stefan Pietras, 35, of Tudor Street, Sutton and Donald Gornall, 49 of Welbeck Street, Sutton, both pleaded not guilty to a charge of ‘going equipped for theft’ when they were stopped by police in possession of tools described as ‘commonly used for breaking into vehicles’.
The pair were seen walking through Sutton at around midnight on December 16, 2015 when a plain-clothes police team spotted them behaving suspiciously and they were later arrested by a second unit.
When the pair were searched police found an amount of ketamine, a torch, gloves and a rucksack containing a hat on Mr Gornall as well as some hypodermic needles and syringe packets.
Plain clothes officer PC Bradshaw added of Mr Pietras: “We found a drain key, a ball bearing, he had a torch in his hand, he was wearing gloves and had two very small pen knives in his pocket.
The officer went on to suggest that the objects were common parts of a thief’s toolkit.
“Anything with a steal point is suitable for breaking car windows,” PC Bradshaw told the court.
“It’s a very specific modus operandi that throwing a ball bearing at a car window will break the window while making very little noise.
But their defending counsel, Chris Lacey argued that officer may not have seen the same men, as he was too far away to observe his actions and did not make any reference to a rucksack in his statement - and they confirmed that they did not see the men use the equipment.
The defendants claimed they had been at a friend’s house in the Leamington estate and were using amphetamine.
Gornall said he was ‘ballooning’ as he roamed through Sutton late at night, from the Leamington Estate, via the Twitchell and High Pavement to Asda.
He added: “Once you’ve taken amphetamine you look for shiny objects. It’s what it makes you do.”
“Cars are shiny things,” said Mr Lacey.
“But you can’t put them in your pocket,” said Gornall. “No, there was no intention to look into any cars.”
“What was the purpose of the rucksack?”
“To put things in,” said Gornall.
Pietras said hen questioned: “I was just taking drugs and we were mucking about.
“Everything’s attractive to you - you can be messing with something for hours and hours.
“You can be fascinated with a screw for an hour.
He said he acquired the metal drain key maybe the day before, and thought it was a toffee hammer.
“It just caught my attention and I put it in my pocket along with a lot of other things,” added Pietras.
On the other items he added: “I always have a touch at night, I didn’t realise there was a law against that.”
Magistrates read a guilty verdict and released them pending a report by probation officers to issue a community order.