Van thief jailed to protect public

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The van was stolen from outside Grantfield Garage.

The van was stolen from outside Grantfield Garage.

A man who stole a van from Grantfield Garage in Lerwick before committing a catalogue of other offences has been sentenced to nine months in prison.

Craig Moverly, 44, of the town’s Burnside previously admitted a total of nine offences at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

He took the van which had been left running idle from outside the garage and headed to the South Mainland on 17th January.

He drove dangerously, uninsured and at excessive speed.

Moverly later stood in the middle of the carriageway between Scousburgh and Bigton. He subjected a “terrified” woman and her two children to an ordeal after getting into her car.

He later became involved in a struggle with a female delivery driver from the Bigton shop as he attempted to steal her van. She broke a small bone in her hand as she struggled to remove the key from the ignition to prevent him from taking the vehicle.

Moverly was later tracked down by police in a nearby field, but he threatened to kill them during a violent struggle. He was later searched and found to have the Class C drug diazepam.

Moverly committed the offences while on bail, which had been granted at Tain Sheriff Court.

In court today procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the incident had played out over an extensive period of time. He said it was fortunate that a serious road accident did not occur.

“There were a number of very dangerous overtaking manoeuvres which, but for the reactions of other drivers, certainly had the potential to result in a fairly catastrophic collision.”

He added a woman was forced to bring her car to a halt in the South Mainland after spotting Moverly standing in the road.

“Her reaction was to wind down her window to establish what he wanted. The accused just walked to the passenger door of her car and entered the car.

“She described him as being jumpy and being affected by some substance.

“He initially asked for a run to the airport. She declined to do that, but was too scared to ask him to leave the car.”

Instead she ran him to the Bigton shop, but her “initial discomfort” turned to “outright fear” when he repeatedly asked her for a kiss.

She drew the attention of a passing delivery driver and quietly asked her for help.

“That witness could see that the woman in the car was, as she described, ‘obviously terrified’,” Mr MacKenzie added.

After arriving at the shop the woman and her children left the car. But Moverly climbed into the delivery van and started the engine, “revving it to its full limit”.

The woman from the shop went to prevent him from driving away.

“There was a struggle and she managed to remove the ignition key from the van. But in the course of that struggle she broke a small bone in her hand,” Mr MacKenzie told the court.

Moverly was eventually subdued after being tracked down by police officers.

Mr MacKenzie added the pills found on Moverly may have been the root of his problems.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Moverly accepted his behaviour on the day was “terrifying”.

He said Moverly had been suffering from hallucinations

“One thing leads to another and the whole thing plays out in a nightmarish fashion,” Mr Allan said.

Moverly had been subject to psychological assessments which failed to highlight any treatable mental health conditions. But Mr Allan said Moverly was not short of problems.

He said Moverly had served the equivalent of a three month custodial sentence since he was taken into remand. He added a background report highlighted alternatives to a custodial sentence.

But sheriff William Taylor was not to be persuaded.

“The difficulty I have is the protection of the public because the report makes it clear that he is not to be trusted in terms of substance abuse. If he is involved in substance abuse then he is likely to commit this kind of offence again.”

He said it was “absolutely horrific” to consider a woman with her two children in her car could find herself in that situation.

“I don’t see that there’s very much alternative to the court to custody.”

As well as sentencing him to a prison term – backdated to 20th January – he also banned Moverly from driving for a year. Moverly will have to resit the test if he wants to drive again.