Getaway driver banned in scam

A GETAWAY driver, who was accidentally burned when a car was torched in an insurance scam, has been spared jail.John Harbottle did not set fire to the Citroen Xantia, but was very close when a flame ignited the petrol-doused vehicle.

A GETAWAY driver, who was accidentally burned when a car was torched in an insurance scam, has been spared jail.

John Harbottle did not set fire to the Citroen Xantia, but was very close when a flame ignited the petrol-doused vehicle.

When police arrived at his Felixstowe home the next day his singed head and face forced him to own up, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Before the court was Harbottle 19, of Cavendish Street, the owner of a Fiat car used in the getaway, Graham Moore 33, of Queen Street, Felixstowe the owner of the Xantia and Gary Bowes 19 of Mill Lane, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.


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A fourth man who was not named was acquitted after standing trial previously for the same offence.

Peter Gair prosecuting said a Levington landowner saw the men acting suspiciously near the Xantia in one of his fields at 10.30pm on December 23 last year.

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Mr Gair said: "He saw a vehicle go up in flames, the Xantia. Three men got in a Fiat car and drove away."

The court heard that Moore was not at the scene of the blaze.

Mr Gair said Moore phoned the police and the insurance company the next day to report his car had been stolen. He was due to receive about £2,000 on the insurance claim.

The court heard that Moore a painter and decorator had been about £7,400 in debt at the time of the offence and was "deeply remorseful" for his actions. The head gasket on Moore's car was faulty and he needed £500 to have it fixed, also his daughter had moved back in with her mother which had caused him distress.

The court heard the Harbottle had "learned his lesson" and Bowes "was not a party to the original agreement of conspiracy".

None of the defendants had previous convictions.

Judge John Holt said: "You have pleaded guilty to a serious criminal offence conspiracy to defraud."

He said a prison sentence would have been deserved if it wasn't for defendants' previous good character and guilty pleas.

Moore was ordered to do 180 community service and was made the subject of a six-month curfew order between 8pm and 5am, he was also ordered to pay court costs.

Harbottle was told to do 140 hours unpaid work and was given a curfew between 7pm and 6am for six months while Bowes was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and also given a six-month curfew.

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