‘Stupid’ Navy man fined after taking works van

A crewman from a Royal Navy frigate got into hot water when he took a van from outside a Lerwick fish shop without the owner’s consent.

Darren Lees, 33, of Walcheren Place in Poole, Dorset, was serving on the Type 23 frigate, HMS St Albans, during her “goodwill visit” to the isles in May.

But he ended up being fined after taking the works van from outside McNab’s Kippers following a night on the town.

Lees used it to drive back to his ship.

The van was quickly recovered by the owner the following morning after its disappearance came to light.

But Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Lees had embarrassed himself and the Royal Navy.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie told the court: “He was visiting Shetland as part of the crew of the Royal Naval vessel that was here as a goodwill visit.

“He took the works van from outside the works premises.”

Mr MacKenzie said the distance was relatively short, and the van was recovered.

“He has embarrassed himself and the Royal Navy, and no doubt there will be disciplinary proceedings taken.”

Defence agent James Eodanable said Lees wanted to apologise for his “stupid actions”.

He said Lees had been on holiday, but had returned to the UK and was instructed to join his ship in Lerwick.

“He did that without delay,” said Mr Eodanable.

But on arriving in Lerwick he went out with his shipmates.

“They decided to make a night of it – but he wanted to head home,” the defence agent added.

He said Lees, who has served in the navy for 16 years, had felt cold and sought warmth in the unlocked van.

The court heard Lees risked losing his job in Poole, where he enjoys the highest security his rank could have, if he was disqualified from driving, and would face having to move to Portsmouth.

“Losing his licence would have a catastrophic affect on his career and impact on his family.”

Submitting character references – which he described as being in “glowing terms” in support of Lees – he said the offence was a “stupid act of a responsible man”.

Sheriff Philip Mann told Lees: “I’m prepared to accept this was an act of gross stupidity, which was somewhat out of character. However, I can’t just sweep it under the carpet. It’s clear some punishment has to be imposed here.”

He fined Lees £600 – down from £900 to reflect the early plea.


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