A MAN from Rhyl who stole a “cherished” Volkswagen campervan worth £14,000 from a newly retired couple in Manchester has been spared jail.

James Deeney, 62, of Frederick Street, was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Mold Crown Court today (December 13).

He was found guilty after trial on September 5 of theft of a motor vehicle.


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Prosecutor Oliver King told the court that, in late 2022, Robert Hopewell encountered an issue with his campervan, so contacted Deeney after becoming aware of his vehicle repair business.

Mr Hopewell telephoned Deeney on November 13, 2022, and was said to have been “impressed” by his knowledge of the vehicle, and that he appeared to diagnose the issue immediately.

They met the following day, when Deeney took the van away to replace its brake cable.

On December 6, Deeney quoted Mr Hopewell £720 to cover the cost of repairs and a service for the vehicle, which was paid the following day.

Deeney told Mr Hopewell that “Chris”, an employee of his, would return his vehicle, but suspicions grew when, in the weeks that followed, this did not transpire.

This led Mr Hopewell to conduct his own research, which led him to a business park in Rhuddlan, where he saw his campervan parked behind a locked gate.

He took a picture of it, and contacted Deeney, who promised to deliver it on January 4, 2023.

But this did not happen, with Deeney claiming that an employee had “let him down”.

On January 7, Deeney told Mr Hopewell he was trying to source a part for the campervan, so needed a document number, which Mr Hopewell gave him.

This, in fact, was to facilitate changing the registered ownership of the campervan.

Deeney put the vehicle’s ownership in the name of Nathan Jones, a man who he had been in contact with on January 3, and who he had asked to value and sell the campervan on his behalf.

It was then advertised on an auction website for a number of weeks until Mr Jones became aware that the campervan had been stolen.

Police recovered the van on February 19, but found several items missing from it and minor damage to its bodywork.

In a statement, Mr Hopewell said the ordeal “exhausted” him and his wife, who have developed a “strong sentimental attachment” to the campervan during the 11 years which they have owned it.

When interviewed, Deeney accepted Mr Hopewell’s version of events but denied dishonesty on his part.

Mr King described Deeney as having a “long record for dishonesty”, including for previous car thefts.

“Blame was wrongly placed on others, namely Nathan Jones, who the defendant claimed had taken ownership of vehicle and tried to sell it,” Mr King added.

Defending Deeney, Jason Smith said that the loss of his wife in October has had a “profound effect” on him.

This was said to be his first conviction for roughly five-and-a-half years, meanwhile.

Mr Smith invited the court to suspend Deeney’s custodial sentence with “onerous” conditions attached; this would also allow him to pay his victims compensation.

Sentencing, Judge Rhys Rowlands agreed to do so, but ordered Deeney to abide by an electronically monitored curfew, preventing him from leaving his home between 9pm and 6am for four months.

Deeney will pay compensation of £2,760, a fine of £2,500, costs to the Crown Prosecution Service of £500, and a victim surcharge of £187.

Judge Rowlands told him: “You are a thoroughly dishonest individual. There is no regret or contrition shown.

“You were bound to be found out eventually.

“You know, as well as I do, what will happen if you commit further offences.”