Serial offender crashed into police in stolen car after break-in
An Ipswich man who wrote off a stolen car after breaking into a lorry driver training centre has been jailed.
Serial offender Lee Nicholls, of Hawke Road, broke into Hamilton's Driver Training in Ipswich early on Sunday, March 3.
The 32-year-old stole a metal safe and a variety of tools from the Sandy Hill Lane site after breaking into an office and buildings on the premises.
He also stole the keys to a Volkswagen Golf and then used the vehicle to force open the metal gates of the yard, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Tuesday.
Later in the afternoon of March 3, police found the stolen car in Alston Road and parked in front of the vehicle.
Nicholls, who was also banned from driving, then tried to move the vehicle and crashed into the police car.
He then attempted to escape on foot but was caught by officers and arrested.
He was taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre and subsequently charged.
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Nicholls pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and driving while disqualified.
In a victim statement read in court, Walter Hamilton, managing director of Hamilton Driver Training - which provides bus and lorry training from two sites in Ipswich and King's Lynn - said the break-in had caused "considerable disruption" to his business.
Mr Hamilton said he had been forced to purchase a new Volkswagen Golf at more than £19,000 and that expensive damage had been caused to an office and computer tower at the site.
He added that the break-in had caused much "personal stress and costs" and following the incident, he had been forced to invest more money in tightening security around his business.
The court heard how Nicholls had 41 previous convictions for more than 100 offences.
These include burglary and driving offences.
In mitigation, Kelly Fernandez-Lee said Nicholls' offending was down to his drug use and that he was "truly sorry" for the incident.
She said Nicholls would welcome a drug rehabilitation programme.
Judge John Devaux sentenced Nicholls to 20 months in prison on Tuesday.
His two-year driving disqualification was also extended by 10 months.
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