An overweight burglar’s explanation for what he was doing with a ladder outside an MoT garage in the middle of the night has been quickly rejected by a jury – for the second time.
Simon Edwards had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the attempted burglary of the Car4U premises in Paynes Lane, Rugby, in April 2019.
He claimed he was looking for a discarded tractor tyre to use for a fitness programme, and was wearing gloves and using a ladder he had found there to help him get through bracken.
A jury took just 43 minutes to dismiss his tale and find Edwards (54) of The Stour, Daventry, guilty following a trial in April last year.
Edwards appealed against his conviction, and the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial to take place because in his summing-up the judge at the original trial had raised the issue of ‘joint enterprise,’ which the prosecution had not put forward.
But at the end of Edwards’s second trial at the court’s ‘Nightingale Court,’ that jury also quickly found him guilty.
The case was then adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, and he was granted bail by Judge Barry Berlin.
During the original trial prosecutor Alex Pritchard-Jones said that Car4U operates as an MoT and servicing garage at its premises in Paynes Lane.
At 4.16 in the morning on 15 April 2019 an alarm was activated at its premises, and the owner was alerted by the alarm company and made his way there.
Meanwhile two police officers also headed to the scene to investigate why the alarm had gone off, and they saw Edwards near the premises.
When he saw them, he tried to make off, but was stopped and arrested – and although it was captured by an officer’s body camera, there was a dispute over what Edwards said to the officer.
But Mr Pritchard-Jones told the jury: “We say he said ‘I was trying to get into the place, and I failed.’”
A window accessed from the roof had been broken, and the owner said someone must have got inside to trigger the alarm.
Edwards was wearing gloves, and two ladders were found nearby, and Mr Pritchard-Jones said: “The Crown say Mr Edwards is guilty of attempted burglary. He was there at half past four in the morning and was trying to get into Car4U.”
But Edwards claimed he had driven to the area and parked in the nearby Jewson’s car park to look for a discarded tractor tyre to use to help get himself fit.
He said he was searching waste land, believing that if he took a tyre from there he would not be committing any offence.
He said he returned to his car to get his gloves because there was a lot of bracken on the waste land, and saw a ladder, so picked it up to use to help him get through the bracken.
Edwards said he had not been up onto the roof and had not smashed the window, claiming he was ‘too big’ to scale the ladder, which he said he could not have fitted in his car.
He said he had not told the officer he was trying to get into the building, and that what he had said was: “I was trying to get to the back of the building, but failed.”
His solicitor Nick Devine put to the jury: “The officer in the case saw the window, and he saw Mr Edwards. He confessed that in his view Simon Edwards could not have got through that window because of his size and physique.
“Even if he could have got through that window, given his condition, he’s supposed to have scaled the wall of the premises, got onto the roof and would then have had to heave the ladder onto the roof.
“He carts it over the roof, smashes the window, lowers the ladder and goes in and has a look round and climbs back out and pulls the ladder back up, carries it across the roof and lowers it down to climb down.
“He’s supposed to have done all that in his physical condition. That is utterly impossible,” argued Mr Devine.
Mr Devine pointed out that there were two other men in the area at the time who the police saw and allowed to leave.
He argued that the jury could not rule out those men as the offenders – but at the retrial the prosecution pointed out that just because other people may have been involved, it did not mean Edwards was not.