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Court told Moray man who stole vehicles worth £27,000 turned life around while in prison

By Ali Morrison

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A MORAY man who stole a six berth caravan and a quad bike with a total value of £27,000 turned his life around while spending six months in prison on remand.

Defence solicitor Gerry Sweeney said his client, John McPhee of Innes Court, Lhanbryde had initially wanted to go to prison for his crimes.

But with his relationship being rekindled, the birth of his sixth child, and the support of family and prison services, McPhee had overcome his alcohol and drug difficulties as well as his depression, the lawyer said.

Mr Sweeney told Sheriff Sara Matheson: "He now wants to restart his industrial fencing business which was very successful. The period in custody has saved him.

"He was in a dark and difficult place when these offences were committed, he was depressive and taking illicit drugs and alcohol.

"The catalyst was the break-up of his relationship. But he is now clean."

McPhee had previously admitted theft and theft by opening a lockfast place on February 15, 2020 and May 22, 2020. Sentence was deferred for a background report.

But Sheriff Matheson was not prepared to deal with 39 year old McPhee immediately because there had been a significant change in his attitude.

She said she wanted a restriction of liberty assessment and a fresh social work background report. McPhee will re-appear on June 20 and his bail was continued.

The court had earlier heard that the 40 year old used an angle grinder to cut a lock off the towbar of the caravan. It had been stored in a compound in Grantown on Spey.

Police stopped McPhee's Ford Transit van which was towing the caravan on the A9 near Kincraig and arrested him.

Mrs Eastwood then told the court how a GPS tracker on the £7,000 quad bike helped police arrest McPhee. But she said that although the quad bike was taken to an industrial estate in Kirkcaldy, police were unable to recover it.

The bike had been stolen from a storage compound in Lossiemouth which was broken into by McPhee. Officers matched CCTV to the route taken by the quad bike and McPhee's van was seen on exactly the same route.

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