On Wednesday 17th April 2013, two people (Anthony Mills and Ben Barton) were sent to prison for stealing £57,000 worth of lego. Mr Mills was sentenced to 3 years and Mr Barton to 10 months.
Details are scant, but it seems that the lego was being transported when the driver stopped at Watford Gap service stations. Mr Mills (who it seems was a drug addict with an extensive criminal history) and Mr Barton then broke in to the lorry and unloaded 1,200 crates into their lorry before driving away.
It seems that they both pleaded guilty. Why did they get what they did? And why the disparity between them?
There are Sentencing Guidelines for theft. This case doesn’t quite fit into any of the categories, but was perhaps taken by the Judge as being closest to a non-residential burglary (page 19). This would give a starting point of 2 years.
Here, it seems that Mr Mills was very much the ringleader and his numerous previous convictions would certainly aggravate matters. The Judge did say that there was an element of deterrence in the sentence as theft from lorries are prevalent.
Even allowing for that, the sentence of 3 years seems very high, equating to a starting point after a trial of 5 years, more in line for the sentences that would have been handed out for a robbery and far more than would be expected for this sort of an offence. The sentence for Mr Barton seems much more reasonable.
We will have to wait and see if there is an appeal (and I would have thought that there would be) or the sentencing remarks to be released to see whether the sentence was justified. Yes, it was worth a lot of money, but it’s only Lego at the end of the day?