Young duo dodge jail time after knicking £30,000 of chewing gum

A teenager has managed to avoid jail time after he played a part in a £30,000 chewing gun heist.

Keon Sanderson, 18, who took part in the job to pay off a debt, helped raid the lorry while the driver slept.

The theft took place at Gloucester Services on the M5, which saw a trio of gum-snatchers lift out seven of the 19 pallets of Wrigley’s in the back of the truck on May 4 this year.

The operation was described as “sophisticated” by recorder judge Richard Mawhinney.

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Sanderson and two other participants, one of which was 20-year-old Ellis Benecke, fled the scene after they were spotted by the driver who called the police.

A chase along the motorway followed, which also saw them drive the wrong way up the A40, eventually abandoning their lorry by a BMW dealership and making a break for it on foot.

The lorry driver had to take a week off after saying she was suffering from emotional distress and that the break-in was like one in a home.

Gloucester Crown Court heard that Sanderson was “coerced” into taking part in the heist and would not have made personal gain from taking the gum.

Mandla Ndlou, the defence barrister, said: "This was very much done under the boot of an individual who was much older than he was."

Sanderson was initially pinned as the getaway driver by police, however, that is now accepted by the force to not be the case.

Sanderson, from Birstall near Leeds, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to theft, not taking a breathalyser test, giving blood or urine samples and having cannabis on him.

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He received a 10-month sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Judge Mawhinney noted: "This was a sophisticated and planned operation to identify a vehicle from which goods were to be stolen.

"I accept that planning was not yours, and you were effectively a foot soldier.

"You were under a certain amount of pressure to perform these actions, but at the same time you benefitted by having a debt written off."

As well as the suspended sentence, he has to pay £200 in court costs and complete 150 hours of unpaid work. He is not allowed to drive for 18 months following his refusal to take a breathalyser test.

Benecke, who is thought to have once been a footballer with a potentially bright career ahead of him, was sentenced at the same court hearing.

He too admitted to taking part in order to settle a debt and has to complete 140 hours of community service. He was handed an eight-month sentence suspended for 18 months.

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