Four men who caused more than £20,000 damage by using knives, screw drivers, a crowbar and a hammer to smash windows and slash tyres on 86 cars parked in 21 villages around the Melton area have been jailed.
Leicester Crown Court was told this afternoon (Monday) that the group went on their remarkable journey of destruction for eight hours.
One of them said ‘it was fun’ when police examined phone calls made between the four shortly after their rampage.
But the gang, sitting side by side in the dock, looked ahead stony faced and one wiped away tears as Recorder Justin Wigoder said he had no option but to send them all to prison.
Lewis Guy (23), of Stirling Road, Melton, Kieran Painter, of Morley Close, Melton, Lewis Watts (22), of Nottingham Road, Melton, and 20-year- old Tyron Cotterill, of Beaumont Leys, Leicester, were all given eight months after each admitted six counts of criminal damage, representing all the attacks.
Watts was given an additional four months’ jail for breaching a community service order after being convicted of possessing indecent images.
Cotterill must serve an extra three months in prison after admitting driving dangerously during the orgy of damage, which took place on January 1 and 2 this year, and was banned from driving for 17 months.
The gang damaged 15 vehicles in Waltham, alone, and there were also six attacks in both Scalford and Rearsby, five in Gaddesby, two in Melton and many others in villages throughout the Melton and Charnwood boroughs.
Passing sentence, the recorder told the men: “I don’t know why you did this.
“Whether it was for the sheer enjoyment of hearing glass being smashed, I’m not sure.
“What is quite remarkable is the length of time this went on for and the number of different cars that were attacked.
“The evening seems to have started at about 10 or 10.30pm and it was still going at 6.30 the following morning.
“The schedule of your destruction took in 21 villages and in each village a number of different cars in a number of different streets were damaged.
“Owners would have woken to find windows smashed, tyres slashed and bodywork dented in some instances.
“It is little consolation that the car owners will have been insured because they will all have had to pay the excess fee.
“It’s the length, breadth and scope of these offences which make this so serious and mean that I must impose custodial sentences.”
Prosecutor Samuel Coe told the court that Leicestershire Police had received multiple reports from people throughout a big area of the county of cars being damaged.
The gang were caught in the act by Christopher Bennington, he said, after they had smashed a window of his BMW parked outside his Thurmaston home.
He spotted a black Vauxhall Vectra, later found to have been driven by Cotterill, and when it sped off, Mr Bennington gave chase in his other car.
It travelled at excessive speed, passing through red lights and making dangerous overtaking manoeuvres before he gave up the chase.
Mr Bennington was able to give police the registration number of the vehicle and other evidence to trap the gang came from CCTV footage provided by members of the public and finger prints and DNA evidence found on the implements used.
Watts also drove off from a garage without paying for the £64.86 of petrol he had filled his car with during the rampage.
Mr Coe said: “This was what can only be described as a spree of criminal damage.
“There was clearly a pre-meditated element because of the knives, screw drivers and crowbar which were in the vehicle.”
Guy’s solicitor asked for leniency because his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Samuel Skinner said Guy had been made redundant four times in seven years, the last time shortly before the rampage took place.
“He fell in with the other three at a low point for him personally and took part in what he concedes was an idiotic spree. He says his family are rightfully ashamed of what he did,” Mr Skinner told the court.
Painter’s barrister also argued that he should be spared prison because he was of previous good character with no previous convictions.
Clodaghmuire Callinan told the hearing: “This is an extremely vulnerable young man who is on the autistic spectrum.”
James Bide-Thomas, for Watts, said his client had lost a lot of weight since being charged because he suffered from an eating disorder.
He argued that community service would be a more appropriate penalty for him.
Cotterill’s mental state had deteriorated since the spree of destruction, his counsel, Mara Silva-Romefort, told the court.
“Having met him on a number of occasions, this young man shows total remorse for his actions,” she said.
“He has asked if he can go door-to- door and speak to every person whose car was damaged and give them a letter of apology.
“He understands the impact on the victims, he says he has let down his family and humiliated his mother.”
The four must pay compensation of £21,017 between them.