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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Prison term for Cumbrian teen who took two cars and crashed them

A 19-year-old man who took two cars without permission, and crashed them both, has been jailed for 16 months.

Carl Johnstone, 19, of The Pines, Mealsgate, near Wigton, first took his mother’s car and drove it across the north west and into Scotland, before crashing it near Alston.

One of his passengers had to be airlifted to hospital, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Two months later, he took a friend’s mother’s car before crashing it in Ullswater Road, in Penrith, then going on a crime spree around the town.

Prosecutor Tim Evans told the court the crimes had started on December 19 last year when his mother noticed her car keys were missing and realised her son must have taken the vehicle, a Vauxhaul Corsa.

Johnstone had driven to several places, including Preston, Annan, Dumfries and then towards Alston.

She had called her son on December 21, asking him to return.

Mr Evans said: “He didn’t, because the car had been involved in a crash which involved it going through hedges and rolling.”

The court heard that there had been several passengers in the car when it crashed near Alston, two of whom suffered injuries.

“As far as taking without consent goes it was as serious as you can get,” Mr Evans added.

On February 16 this year, Johnstone visited a friend in Penrith. He took his friend’s mother’s Toyota Aigo and was involved in a crash on Ullswater Road at 5.30am on February 17.

Later that day Johnstone was seen jumping over a wall into caravan park at Carleton Hall in Penrith.

The site owner found him hiding under a caravan.

“He was asked what he was doing and said he was ‘on a mission’,” Mr Evans told the court.

“He was asked who he was, he replied ‘CJ from Wigton’. It was plain to see that attempts had been made to get into the caravan.”

Mr Evans then said Johnstone had gone on an “offending spree” over the course of February 20 and 21 in Penrith. He broke into a barn at a farm at Cold Springs, described by Mr Evans as “a farm in a rural area just outside of Penrith” and took a Yamaha quad bike.

This was later found at another farm nearby.

He also broke into Penrith Bowling Club and ransacked the building’s cupboards and drawers.

However, the court heard there was no evidence anything had been taken.

This was discovered on February 21.

On the same day Johnstone also took a Peugeot scooter from an address on Friars Rise in Penrith.

He had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of taking the Corsa without consent and driving it without insurance.

He had also admitted a charge of aggravated taking without consent relating to the Toyota Aigo and driving the Peugeot and Yamaha vehicles without consent.

Johnstone had also pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary – relating to the crimes at the bowling club and Cold Springs Farm – and one of attempted burglary at the caravan site.

Lucy Wright, defending, said Johnstone had been immature when he committed the crimes and was attempting to turn his life around.

She said: “He wants to do all he can to become a better person.”

Miss Wright added that he was now looking into training and employment.

Recorder Mark Ainsworth, presiding, sentenced Johnstone to 16 months’ in a young offenders institute and ordered him to pay a £100 victim surcharge. He was also banned from driving for 12 months.

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