Driver stole £10,000 worth of goods from passengers’ lost luggage at Stansted Airport

Chelmsford Crown Court

Chelmsford Crown Court - Credit: Lucy taylor

A delivery driver who stole items worth £10,000 from passengers’ lost luggage at Stansted Airport has been spared prison.

John Collins, 43, pleaded guilty to the theft of laptops, cameras, perfume and other electrical items at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Collins was employed as a driver for Fed Ex, and was working for affiliate company First Flight, based in Elsenham, who return luggage to passengers which has been lost or delayed from Stansted or Luton airports.

From February 1 to April 18 this year, Collins admitted taking various items and selling them.

The court heard on Tuesday how First Flight received numerous complaints from passengers about missing items from their suitcases during that time.

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Collins, of Roebuck Gate, Stevenage, was discovered when a victim had a tracker on a laptop that had not been returned to her, and the computer was traced to his home.

Police attended the address on July 22 and, during a search of the property, found laptops, mobile phones, memory cards from cameras that had been sold, as well as perfume, aftershave, and electric shavers.

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First Flight paid out £16,872 in compensation to victims whose stolen goods were not returned to them, the court heard.

Charlotte Davison, prosecuting, said: “The company First Flight received complaints from passengers at Stansted and Luton Airport who were missing various items from their lost or delayed luggage.

“A victim was able to provide information to the police regarding her laptop, which contained a tracker.

“At the address of the defendant numerous items were found.

“At police interview, he admitted selling the items and keeping the money for himself.”

Kate Armstrong, mitigating, said Collins had been stopped from seeing his children by his ex-wife due to problems paying child maintenance, and saw the thefts as “easy money”.

She added he had found new employment since October 10 and was “extremely remorseful”.

Collins was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, 250 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £2,500 in compensation.

Judge Christopher Moran warned Collins that failure to comply with any of the conditions of his sentence would result in jail.

He said: “You abused the trust of your employer and those whose luggage you were employed to handle and deliver, and there was no evidence to suggest you were going to to stop this voluntarily.

“But the fact that you are working again leads me to believe that you are making a go of it.

“Should you breach any conditions of your sentence, you will appear again before me and I will impose all or part of the nine months prison sentence.”

The judge also dismissed claims from Collins he had not gone through people’s luggage, and instead simply taken items which has fallen loose in his van.

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