Tree thief used wheelie bin to cart off greenery from Hartlepool garden raids

Hartlepool Law Courts, incorporating Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.
Hartlepool Law Courts, incorporating Hartlepool Magistrates' Court.

A green-fingered thief targeted a string of gardens and used a stolen wheelie bin to get away with his loot.

Charles Nixon and a woman accomplice went out in the early hours to steal ornamental plants, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.

David Carmichael, prosecuting, said the pair targeted gardens in Fulbeck Close and Westbrooke Avenue, both in Hartlepool.

“They also stole a brown wheelie bin to transport the items,” added Mr Carmichael.

“It is not clear when Nixon was arrested, but he cooperated fully with police telling them he had taken the plants to sell.

“All but two were recovered and returned to their owners.”

Nixon, 38, of Devon Street, Hartlepool, admitted theft of two pyramid bushes, two ornamental tree pots, two ferns, a spiral bush and a wheelie bin, all on May 10.

The court heard Nixon began offending in 1991, and has committed 63 offences, including 37 thefts.

Sheila Ramshaw, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Nixon has had a difficult past, including a significant addiction to drugs.

“He tells me he takes drugs much less now, which is borne out by his recent record, which shows only two convictions in the last year.

“The motivation for his offending is money, but it is more money for day-to-day expenses rather than money for drugs.

Nixon’s probation officer told the court he is on benefits and has all his bills paid, plus £15 a day spending money.

He was given a 12-month community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement, ordered to pay £34 compensation for the plants which were not recovered, and £299 costs.

The money will be deducted from Nixon’s benefits at £5 a week.