Published: 00:01, 02 November 2017
| Updated: 00:15, 02 November 2017
Two burglars broke into a tool hire warehouse and then fled in a stolen Royal Mail van pursued by police cars and tracked by a helicopter, a court heard.
The van was stolen from a postman about a month before Lee Brown and David Stone used it to load up tools worth about £4,000 from Hire Station in Tonbridge on July 15 this year.
It was seen parked outside the closed business in Sovereign Way with false number plates on the Saturday afternoon.
The two men - both drug addicts - were spotted going backwards and forwards to put property in the back of the van.
Prosecutor Ryan Richter said the police were informed and a chase then ensued with Brown, 49, driving on the A21, M25 and A2 for about 30 miles.
“Because of the manner of driving a police helicopter had to be used,” he told Maidstone Crown Court.
Brown drove on the wrong side of the road, exceeded the speed limit, went over roundabouts in the wrong direction and overtook and undertook near the Blackwall Tunnel in London.
Brown, who has 59 previous convictions for 164 offences, eventually stopped and walked towards police officers. Stone, 50, ran off but was soon arrested.
Brown and Stone, both of Canning Town, east London, admitted burglary and aggravated vehicle taking. Brown also admitted driving while disqualified.
Brown, who appeared by TV link with Elmley Prison, was jailed for two years and 10 months and banned for two-and-a-half years. Stone, who appeared in the dock, was jailed for 20 months.
Judge Jeremy Carey told Brown: “You decided, because you have an entrenched criminal mind set, to take the van.”
After smashing their way into the warehouse and stealing the property, they tried to escape but were caught by “smart police work”.
“You drove in an appallingly dangerous way,” the judge told Brown.
“You put people at risk in daylight hours.
"You have been disqualified so many times it would take some time to count how many.
"It runs into at least double figures.”
He told both men: “You stole thousands of pounds worth of equipment, no doubt so you could knock it out at a substantially reduced amount.”
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