Anger over theft of family car

Car theft victim Tammy Bennett with her son Zak Prins
Car theft victim Tammy Bennett with her son Zak Prins

A SINGLE mum has branded the justice system as “ridiculous” after she was left hundreds of pounds out of pocket when yobs destroyed her car.

Tammy Bennett, 27, is still paying back the £340 costs it took to recover her burned-out Volkswagen Polo - while the culprits who took the vehicle have been told to pay just £50 compensation each, barely covering the expenses the full-time mum has had to fork out.

Repeat offenders Ricky Burdess, 22, of Pentland Close, and Sam Rudland, 24, of Yoden Way, along with 26-year-old John Evans, of Snowdon Place, all Peterlee, also escaped paying court costs due to a lack of means.

Tammy, a mum-of-three, of Furness Close, Peterlee, said: “The whole system and sentencing guidelines are absolutely ridiculous.

“Because these people are on benefits and can’t afford compensation the victim is left out of pocket and also in debt.

“It is being deducted from their benefits, so even then I will be lucky to get £5 a week and then have to pay that back to the recovery company.”

All three men admitted taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent on July 27 when they appeared at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on September 11.

Along with the compensation order, Burdess and Rudland were also made subject to an electronically-tagged eight-week curfew from 7pm-7am and Evans was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 40 hours unpaid work.

Tammy, who is mum to Stephanie Bennett, nine, Brooke Bennett, five, and two-year-old Zak Prins, said the car, which was later found burned out on Horden beach, was uninsured as she was due to have it scrapped, which would have made her around £200.

She says her efforts to look for work have been hampered as she is now without a car.

According to sentencung guidelines, offenders’ early guilty pleas will go in their favour and magistrates must also take into account their lack of means when sentencing defendants.

Tammy said she had asked to appeal the sentence. But the Crown Prosecution Service said it can only review cases when new compelling evidence comes to light or if it is felt that the sentencing magistrate or judge has made an error.

Both Victim Support and the Sentencing Council said they could not comment on specific cases.