Took electric bike from rack ‘to prevent it being stolen’

A £2,500 electric bike was taken from a public rack by a man who claimed he did it to stop it being stolen.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29412567)
(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29412567)

Joao Cardinho, who was found guilty of theft when he appeared in the Magistrate’s Court, said he had taken the machine to his home so he could photograph it and put it on the Lost, Found and Stolen Guernsey page on Facebook, and that his intention had been to take it to the police station later.

But Judge Graeme McKerrell would have none of it. He said if the ridiculousness of a defence was to be judged on a one to 10 scale, this one scored 11 because it was a blatant and totally fabricated one.

Cardinho, of La Salerie, 1, St George’s Esplanade, St Peter Port, denied theft but was found guilty and fined £1,000.

He had no previous convictions.

Advocate Jenny McVeigh, prosecuting, told the court a man left the bicycle in the rack opposite the Havelet slipway on a Sunday morning in December. Because he was running late, he had not locked it.

At about 2pm he reported to police that his bike had been stolen. CCTV was viewed and the defendant was seen taking it at about 10am.

It showed him riding it in a northerly direction along the Town seafront and lifting it to a communal area at his home.

When police went to the defendant’s home at 3.53pm, he answered the door and the bike was in the hall.

He accepted taking it and said he planned to take a photograph of it to put on Facebook.

The battery on his mobile phone had been flat, however, and while it had been on charge he had fallen asleep. He often fell asleep at that time because he was used to working nights.

In interview, he said he had gone for a walk that morning and had been sitting on a bench near the bike rack having a cigarette when he noticed the unlocked machine.

Because his own bicycle had been stolen some time before and never returned, he feared the same would happen to this one.

Since the battery had been flat on his mobile phone he had taken the bicycle home to photograph it.

Asked why he had not taken the bike to the police station first, he said if it happened again he would do that.

Advocate McVeigh said the case hinged on the mental element of a person’s intention to commit a crime.

Advocate Chris Green said his client had thought he was doing the right thing. He wanted to take the photograph at the public bike rack but when the battery was flat on his mobile phone, he decided to take it home before going to the police station.

Nothing he was alleged to have done had been covert and everything had been open.

Judge McKerrell found Cardinho guilty. He said he was prepared to treat it as an aberration on the defendant’s part, nevertheless the person whose bike was stolen would have been upset and stressed about it.

This was an expensive bike and the defendant knew that.

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