Prolific criminal’s plan to sell stolen trains went off the rails

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A MAN who sold on two miniature trains within hours of them being stolen has been jailed for 12 months at Lincoln Crown Court.

Richard Whitfield offered the trains, worth around £9,500, to a specialist collector for just £1,000 on the morning after they were taken from the premises of the Melton District Model Engineering Society, based at Whissendine Sports Club.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said the items were taken on the evening of September 16.

Whitfield’s offer was initially rejected and he ended up selling the two items for just £575.

But later the collector learned of the thefts from a trade magazine and contacted police. One of the miniature trains was a five foot long model of a quarry locomotive which weighed one-third of a ton. The engine had been bequeathed to the society by a former member. The other was a model electric locomotive.

Whitfield, 29, of The Grove, Grantham, admitted handling stolen goods on September 17.

The court was told he has convictions for 77 previous offences including over 30 for dishonesty matters.

Judge Michael Heath told him: “Within a short time of the theft of these items you offered them for sale to a collector. You have a dreadful record of dishonesty. There can be no other sentence for this than custody.”

Noel Philo, defending, said Whitfield had no idea of the value of the items.

“He allowed himself to be used by people he knew in return for a very small payment.”