Phone cash box pair are trapped

PUBLISHED: 12:23 12 October 2006 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 May 2010

A SOHAM man has been jailed after being caught red handed with cash boxes ripped from BT telephone kiosks. Darren Thurling, 31, was sentenced to nine months after admitting handling stolen property. While Thurling, of The Causeway, Soham was sent into

A SOHAM man has been jailed after being caught "red handed" with cash boxes ripped from BT telephone kiosks.

Darren Thurling, 31, was sentenced to nine months after admitting handling stolen property.

While Thurling, of The Causeway, Soham was sent into custody, Justin Hopkins, who admitted the same offence, was given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Judge Peter Thompson told Ipswich Crown Court that while Hopkins, 36, of Tulyer Walk, Newmarket had made real efforts to turn his life around, a probation service report said Thurling had nothing to commend him.

The sentences reflected the seriousness of being involved in a crime which rendered payphones useless to people who might need to call the emergency services, said the judge.

Judge Thompson said he gave the men credit for pleading guilty but said they had little option. "You were caught red-handed, " he said.

Police were alerted by BT to thefts of cash boxes from kiosks at Acton, near Sudbury and in Ipswich on the night of January 6. Officers went to a travellers' site on the edge of Ipswich where they saw two vehicles and four men standing nearby. All ran off but Hopkins and Thurling were caught nearby.

In a Subaru owned by Hopkins were two payphone cash boxes. DNA samples on cigarette ends in the vehicle provided a positive link to Hopkins and Thurling, said Neil McCauley, prosecuting.

The second vehicle, a Transit, contained screwdrivers and a scaffold pole with a flattened end.

Hopkins had made genuine efforts to improve his life, said Andrew Shaw in mitigation. He now had two priorities - his job at a local factory and his young daughter, who he saw every other weekend.

Gregory Perrins, mitigating for Thurling, said his client had battled a 10-year heroin habit and had difficulty obtaining work. His involvement had been a case of "mistaken loyalty" said Mr Perrins, when he had agreed to go along with Hopkins.

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