Teens spared jail after stealing more than 20,000 Red Bull cans from lorry near Rugby

Court news. NNL-170524-154443005
Court news. NNL-170524-154443005

The adverts say Red Bull ‘gives you wings’ – but a more than 20,000 cans of the energy drink needed some help to fly off the back of a lorry parked overnight in a layby near Rugby.

The curtain sides of the lorry were left flapping after a team of night-owl thieves swooped in and made off with the consignment worth around £25,000.

Two members of the gang were caught red-handed with the haul after an eagle-eyed trucker made a note of the registration number of their get-away vehicle.

But Black Country teenagers Paul Burton and Brendon Wells escaped becoming jailbirds after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the theft.

Burton, 18, of Baptist End Road, Netherton, Dudley, and Wells, 18, of Foresters Fold, Dudley, were both sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.

Judge Richard Bond also brought them down to earth with orders for 100 hours of unpaid work and £300 costs, as well as taking part in a rehabilitation activity for 60 days.

Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said in October last year, a driver with AFS Haulage Ltd collected a consignment of Red Bull from a distribution centre in in Leicestershire.

At 7.30pm, he parked his curtain-sided lorry in a lay-by on the A5 close to Rugby for the night.

“At about three the following morning, another lorry driver who had also parked there for the night was awoken by noises outside.

“He saw a 7.5 tonne truck parked alongside the AFS lorry and at least three people stood by it.

“Because of the noise, he thought they were up to no good, so called the police and gave them the registration number of the suspect truck as it drove away.”

Thanks to his swift actions, the police were able to respond when, minutes later, the get-away truck triggered a response from a nearby ANPR camera.

Officers in an unmarked car followed it along the A5 until it pulled into a lay-by and the driver got out and ran away, but Burton and Wells were still in the truck and were arrested.

Mr Simpson said in the back of the truck the officers found eight pallets containing more than 20,700 cans of Red Bull with a retail value of £24,675.

And because the theft meant Red Bull was unable to fulfil orders placed by two clients, it had to repay them more than £59,000.

When they were interviewed, Wells made no comment, while Burton denied any knowledge of the theft, claiming he and Wells had been asleep in the back and only woke when the police arrived.

But Mr Simpson pointed out a Red Bull can taken from one of the pallets was found in the passenger footwell – and had Burton’s DNA on it.

Sentencing them after reading pre-sentence reports, judge Bond told them he was giving them a chance, and was reserving any breaches of the suspended sentence to himself.

He warned them this was their chance and he did not give second chances, adding: “I never want to see you again – and I mean that in the nicest of ways.”